Conflicts & War

Suu Kyi’s iconic Yangon colonial villa in peril

By Eric San Juan

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Sep 5 (EFE).- Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s ousted leader who has been in prison since the 2021 military coup, has suffered a new setback after losing a legal battle to hold onto her colonial villa, which has become a symbol of democracy in the troubled nation.

Although she has not lived in the house for a decade, the elegant villa on the edge of Inya Lake in Yangon was where Suu Kyi endured three decades of house arrest.

The ruling in August by the junta-controlled Supreme Court has not deprived her of her share of the property on 54-56 University Avenue but allows her older brother Aung San Oo, a United States resident, to sell the home without her consent.

The benefits obtained from a hypothetical sale, which San Oo has not announced, would be shared between the siblings who have been at the heart of a decades-long feud, according to The Irrawaddy digital newspaper.

In response to the ruling, the exiled National Unity Government (NUG) — which was ousted by the junta in February 2021— on Monday called for the building to be declared a cultural heritage site to avoid a prospective sale.

The villa, valued at around $27 million, according to The Irrawaddy, has been empty since 2012, two years after Suu Kyi ended her 15-year intermittent house arrest.

Her mother, Khin Yi, was given the house in 1947 by Burmese authorities after her husband Aung San Oo, a national hero, was assassinated.

Suu Kyi, who was handed a fresh prison sentence on Friday, was planning to repair the building and use it as the headquarters of her Khin Yi foundation, in honor of her mother who died at 54-56 University Avenue in 1988.


The dispute between the siblings began in 2000, when Suu Kyi’s brother sued her by claiming the family home as his when she was holed up at the property under house arrest.

After the suit was rejected, he claimed partial ownership of the house and in 2016 a court split the ownership of the complex and over 7,000 square meters of land on the shores of Inya Lake between the siblings.

Three years later, San Oo filed a suit to sell the house despite his sister not agreeing to the move.

In August, the Supreme Court granted San Oo approval to sell the property in hearings Suu Kyi was not able to attend because she was imprisoned.


The 77-year old deposed leader has been under arrest since the morning of the coup that unfolded on February 1, 2021.

The only contact Suu Kyi has had with the outside world has been during meetings with her legal team.

Suu Kyi has been in solitary confinement in a Naypyidaw prison since June facing dozens of charges and 20 years in prison in addition to the four year sentence she was handed Friday for electoral fraud.

Suu Kyi’s lawyers, who have been banned from speaking to the media, have said all charges have been fabricated by the junta and evidence is lacking.

Myanmar is in the midst of a deep political, social and economic crisis and is witnessing an uptick in violence with the emergence of new civilian militias opposed to the ruling military junta.

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