Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Counsel summoned over Suu Kyi home repairs

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burma’s High Court has summoned lawyers for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her eldest brother to present arguments next Friday in a dispute over renovations to her crumbling lakeside villa in Rangoon, a lawyer for Suu Kyi told Mizzima.  

Aung San Oo lodged an appeal with Rangoon Division High Court on May 13 against the Rangoon Division Court’s April 6 rejection of his plea for an injunction to stop Suu Kyi repairing her home. His probate claim to a share in the house at No. 54-65, University Avenue is the subject of a pending separate appeal. 

The Rangoon City Development Committee on April 29 had then issued an order to allow renovations to resume. 

Suu Kyi’s lawyer Nyan Win said his main goal was to point out that the brother’s appeal application lacked the legal references to object to the renovation.  

“When I’ve addressed the court on previous occasions I’ve made the same assertion [that the claim lacked precedents], and this time [May 28], I will refer to that again,” the lawyer said. 

Nyan Win had asked the authorities for permission to consult with Suu Kyi on Saturday about the case and to receive her instructions. The junta has detained the National League for Democracy general secretary for 14 of the past 20 years and at present she is under house arrest. 

If Aung San Oo loses this current bid there are no further legal avenues open to him. If his sister loses the case, all renovations must cease. 

According to act 39 section (1), the renovation would not cause damage to the disputed property, and no one could object to the repairs. 

Despite the summons, the High Court has not ordered a halt to the renovations, so the work would continue, fellow Suu Kyi lawyer Kyi Win told Mizzima. 

Bamboo fencing has been erected on the Inya Lake side of the house and old roof tiles cleaned and reinstalled. The tiles were damaged when Cyclone Nargis lashed Burma in May 2008, so Rangoon municipal authorities ordered renovations to proceed between last November and April. 

The Rangoon City Development Committee approved the start of repairs in recognition that the building had become dangerous, but they were put on hold on December 23 after lawyers for Aung San Oo obtained an injunction, citing his claim on the property.   

The Independent of London reported in February that the row over the house started in 2000 when Aung San Oo, who had become a US citizen, sued his sister in Rangoon High Court for a share in the family home. The report said Suu Kyi won but added that in 2001, he filed another suit and that the matter was still pending.

Suu Kyi’s father Aung San, a Burmese hero who fought for independence from the British, and her mother, ambassador Khin Kyi, had three children. Their middle son, Aung San Lin, drowned when he was eight. Burmese Prime Minister U Nu gave the colonial-era house to Khin Kyi while she was serving as envoy to India in 1960.

Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has stayed in the house since 1988 when she returned from London to take care of her ailing mother. 

Suu Kyi’s house arrest was prolonged 18 months last year over the junta’s claims she breached the terms of her detention, after American John Yettaw had swum uninvited across Inya Lake in May and stayed in her house for two days.


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