Myanmar junta reduces Suu Kyi’s sentence...

Dhaka, Monday   24 January 2022

Myanmar junta reduces Suu Kyi’s sentence

 International Desk

 Published: 01:40 PM, 7 December 2021   Updated: 05:36 PM, 7 December 2021

Aung San Suu Kyi; Photo: Collected

Aung San Suu Kyi; Photo: Collected

The Myanmar junta has reduced the sentence of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the country’s ousted civilian government, to two years. A court on Monday sentenced her to four years in prison in a case.

Aung San Suu Kyi was charged in two cases for violating COVID-related sanctions and inciting a coup against the military government. The junta has filed nine more cases against her, including violations of state secrecy laws. If convicted, she could face up to 100 years in prison.

The army overthrew the Suu Kyi government in a bloodless coup on February 1 this year. The junta later accused Suu Kyi of rigging the last election. She and other top leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD) were arrested. The trial against Suu Kyi began in June, four months after she was taken into military custody.

It is learned that these cases against Suu Kyi have been criticized by local and foreign human rights activists. Suu Kyi also denied all the allegations. She has been held incommunicado since her arrest in February. It is not clear whether Suu Kyi will be sent to prison after her sentence.

About the verdict agasint Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun told AFP that “Aung San Suu Kyi had been convicted for inciting dissent against the military and violating COVID restrictions”. She was sentenced to two years and a total of four years in prison. Outgoing President Win Myint, also known as Suu Kyi’s close aide, has been sentenced to four years in prison on the same charges. 

However, Zaw Min Tun said “neither of the two would be taken into custody immediately”. 

He added that the trial of the other cases would begin in the capital, Naypyidaw, where they are now. However, Tun did not mention where Suu Kyi or Win Myint was. Suu Kyi’s trial is set to begin on December 14 in a case involving illegal possession of a walkie-talkie.

The trials of the two cases against Suu Kyi were being conducted at a special military court in Naypyidaw. Journalists were not allowed to enter there. Even Suu Kyi’s lawyers could not be reached for comment. While announcing the verdict, the junta government took several steps to handle the law and order situation in the country. One of them is to disconnect the internet service in the capital. Through this, they took control of the social media of the country.

– Reaction of international bodies –

Some international organizations, including various Western countries and the United Nations, have condemned Suu Kyi’s imprisonment. The head of the UN human rights body, Michelle Bachelet, condemned the verdict, calling it a “shameful trial”.

A top European Union (EU) diplomat has described the verdict as “politically motivated”. He also called for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Myanmar.

Reacting to the same demand, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said, “Repression of elected politicians could put Myanmar at risk of future instability.”

It is learned that the international human rights organization Amnesty International has condemned the verdict. Ming Yu Hah, the agency's regional director, said Aung San Suu Kyi had been severely punished on “false charges”. The sentence against her is the latest example of Myanmar’s military crackdown on dissidents inside the country.

Richard Horsey, a senior adviser to the International Crisis Group based in Myanmar, told AFP that “the sentence showed the military’s power”. 

He thinks Suu Kyi will not be sent to prison. Horsey said it would be “surprising” if she was sent to prison. Most likely, she will serve her sentence at home or in a government guest house.

Suu Kyi, as well as other NLD arrestee leaders, are on trial. Earlier last month, a former minister was sentenced to 75 years in prison. A close aide of Suu Kyi has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.