A Myanmar court has sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi (the ousted leader) to an additional four-year term in prison. This is the latest trial in a long series.
For illegally possessing and importing walkie-talkies, and for violating Covid-19 rules, she was convicted.
Ms. Suukyi was initially convicted on December 31st and received a sentence reduction of just two years.
Since a February military coup, she has been held and is facing about 12 charges. She denies all.
Widely condemned, her trials were deemed unfair.
This latest case involves soldiers who searched her home on the day that troops led by General Min Aung Hlaing, army chief, seized power. According to the evidence, they found devices that were believed to be used by her security personnel. This conviction is widely accepted as a justification for her detention.
Monday’s Nay Pyi Taw trial was closed to media. Ms. Suu Kyi’s lawyers were also barred from speaking with media or the public.
Incitement to dissent was committed by the Nobel laureate. He also broke Covid-19 Rules. This was condemned by Michelle Bachelet (UN human rights chief).
- BACKGROUND: A general that restored Myanmar military rule
- AS IT HAPPENED: Myanmar coup: How did it happen?
- PROFILE: A fallen democracy icon
Human Rights Watch criticized Monday’s sentence and called it a courtroom circus consisting of secret procedures on bogus charges… So (Aung San Suukyi) will continue to be in prison indefinitely.”
Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of the group, also stated that the military was responsible for securing convictions in a “kangaroo” court on “the flimsiest and most politically motivated charges”. He said the army “running roughshod on the human rights of all, from Suu Kyi…to the Civil Disobedience Movements activists out on the streets”.
Months after Ms. Suu Kyi won the November 2020 general election by a huge margin, the military took control of Myanmar, also known as Burma.
While the military claimed that voter fraud was involved in their victory, independent election observers claim the elections were mostly free and fair.
This coup led to widespread protests. The military in Myanmar has reacted against pro-democracy activists, journalists and protesters.
According to the Monitoring Group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), Ms. Suu Kyi is among more than 10600 people who have been detained by the government since February.
She was sentenced to the latest term, which brings her current prison sentence at six years. But, if she were convicted on all of the charges against her, she could live the rest of her lives in jail.
The 76 year-old has been missing from public life since being placed under house arrest. She still faces additional charges, including corruption and election fraud, as well as breaking the Official Secrets Act.
The military’s plans for Jonathan Head (BBC) will determine whether she spends time in prison.
There is widespread opposition to the government; many parts of the country have been engulfed with armed conflict. The economy is at risk.
A negotiated settlement to the conflict is sought by neighbouring nations. Although they have so far made very little progress in this regard, our correspondent suggests that if such negotiations do occur, Aung San Suu Kyi would be involved, as she is still immensely popular.
The icon that fell from grace
Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent almost 15 years detained at the hands the military from 1989 to 2010, was given the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her contribution to bringing democracy to Myanmar.
Although her party, the National League for Democracy was a clear winner in 2015, rules that prohibited foreign children holding office prevented her from running for president. Her de facto leader was widely recognized.
But her international reputation was badly damaged due to the manner she dealt with the Rohingya crisis that began in 2017.
- EXPLAINED:The Rohingya crisis: What do you need to know?
Ms. Suu Kyi will defend her country in 2019 at the UN International Court of Justice.
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