Myanmar court lowers bid price on democracy icon Suu Kyi’s home

Her brother called for the reduction after an auction ended with no one willing to pay US$90 million.
By RFA Burmese
2024.05.23
Myanmar court lowers bid price on democracy icon Suu Kyi’s home Auction officials read a statement outside the family house of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon, Myanmar, March 20, 2024. The lakeside mansion where Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi spent years under house arrest went under auction on March 20, 2024 with a minimum price of $90 million -- but attracted no bids, officials said.
AFP

Jailed democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s brother on Thursday won an appeal to lower the bidding price for their family’s historic home in Myanmar’s Yangon region, after a court-ordered auction in March concluded with no one willing to pay 315 billion kyats, or about US$90 million, for the property.

Critics have called the auction part of an attempt by the military regime to “obliterate the history” of Myanmar’s democratic movement, while the country’s shadow government of former civilian leaders has vowed to take legal action against anyone who tries to purchase the home.

They say it should be protected as a place of cultural heritage.

In August 2022, Suu Kyi’s brother Aung San Oo won a case at a military junta court to liquidate the residence at No. 54 University Avenue in Yangon’s Bahan township.

On Thursday, he successfully petitioned the Kamaryut District Court to reduce the bidding price to 285 billion kyats, or about US$71 million, according to sources with knowledge of the proceedings.

He also lobbied the court to allow potential bidders to visit the two-acre site of the lakeside home where the deposed state counselor spent nearly 15 years under house arrest under Myanmar’s previous military junta.

On March 20, an auction of Suu Kyi’s home concluded with no buyers after repeated calls for bids by the auction officer were unsuccessful.

A police officer walks outside the entrance of the family house of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon, Myanmar, March 20, 2024. (AFP)
A police officer walks outside the entrance of the family house of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon, Myanmar, March 20, 2024. (AFP)

The Kamaryut District Court will reconvene on May 31 to determine how to proceed with the liquidation of the property and Suu Kyi’s lawyers are expected to file objections to its sale. If the home does not return to auction, the court will proceed with its sale on the open market in accordance with the law.

Political analysts told RFA Burmese on Thursday that any auction is unlikely to succeed due to the house’s historic significance, the high bidding price and the property’s ties to Myanmar's political affairs.

Long-running case

The lakeside home was awarded to Suu Kyi’s mother, Khin Kyi, after her father, independence activist Gen. Aung San was assassinated in 1947.

Granted freedom in 2010 after years of house arrest, Suu Kyi received U.S. President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the compound.

Ownership of the historic property has long been disputed by Suu Kyi and her elder brother Aung San Oo.

The legal case to liquidate the property began in 2000, with Aung San Oo auctioning off everything in No. 54 and dividing the proceeds with Suu Kyi.

In 2016, the Yangon Western District Court ruled that Suu Kyi was to receive half of the house and land, with Aung San Oo receiving the other half.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, Aung San Oo filed multiple appeals up to Myanmar’s Supreme Court, where they were ultimately rejected, during the rule of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, or NLD, government.

Myanmar’s junta arrested and imprisoned Suu Kyi shortly after deposing the NLD in a February 2021 coup d’etat, at which point Aung San Oo filed new special appeals, resulting in the Union Supreme Court overruling the earlier decision. Consequently, the Kamaryut District Court decided to sell the property by auction.

Suu Kyi, 78, was initially sentenced by the junta to 33 years on 19 charges, a sentence that was later reduced to 27 years. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is believed to be in solitary confinement in Naypyidaw Prison, in the capital, but her exact whereabouts are unknown.

Translated by Kalyar Lwin. Edited by Joshua Lipes and Malcolm Foster.

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