Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democracy leader may end up sharing her villa with her estranged brother after a lower court ruling in Rangoon. On the surface, the ruling seems to be unordinary, but the political significance of the villa as a symbol of Kyi’s leadership is undoubted. Kyi spent fifteen years under house arrest during the rule of the liberation army which her own father originally founded. Her rise in political status and endurance throughout her house arrest has been symbolized by many in Burma in the form of the family’s long standing Villa. It has become a symbol of Kyi’s struggle and perseverance.
Aung San Oo, Kyi’s brother, has traveled and studied abroad and is currently an American citizen, but maintained his claims to half a share in the villa after previously being denied inheritance rights to the dwelling due to his foreign citizenship status (United States). Burma does not allow foreigners to own property in the country and does not recognize dual citizenship status. After a recent lower court ruling, Kyi may have to share the home with her estranged brother, a foreigner, should the ruling hold up. The appeals process will likely run its course and dictate whether or not the lower court ruling will hold, but the case raises interesting international law issues.
Should Burma, as well as other nations, recognize some form of dual citizenship in an increasing interconnected world? Or should nations be allowed the autonomy to decide for themselves which forms of citizenship they recognize? Similarly, should non citizens of nations be allowed to own property within those nations? How about this case: the citizen and political leader of Burma may lose half a share in the property to her estranged brother who is not a citizen of Burma and seemingly not involved in Burma’s government? Does this make legal sense?
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