Myanmar’s civil leader sentenced to four more years imprisonment

A court found Myanmar’s state counsellor, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, guilty of illegal possession of walkie-talkies and breaching Covid-19 rules. The judges sentenced her to another four years imprisonment on 3 January 2021. The verdict is part of a series of trials against Myanmar’s toppled civilian government leader. She has been facing 11 charges, including charges of corruption and electoral fraud. However, she denies any wrongdoing. The trial was held in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw, under the exclusion of the media. Ms Aung San Suu Kyi and her lawyers have been banned from speaking with the public and media.  

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi had been sentenced to four years imprisonment for alleged incitement and breaching coronavirus restrictions in early December 2021. Following the verdict, the UN High commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, declared “the conviction of the State Counsellor following a sham trial in secretive proceedings before a military-controlled court is nothing but politically motivated”.

Bachelet added, that the criminalisation of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi closes yet another door to political dialogue and will only deepen rejection of the coup d’ état in February 2021 which toppled Myanmar’s elected civilian government. Ms Aung San Suu Kyi has been in detention since the military coup.

Other human rights observers as well condemned the trials against Aung San Suu Kyi as unfair. They say that the fabricated charges are a pretext to lock Aung San Suu Kyi away from the political scene. Human Rights Watch called the legal proceedings a “courtroom circus of secret proceedings on bogus charges… so that (Aung San Suu Kyi) will remain in prison indefinitely”

Myanmar’s military took power in a coup on 1 February, after declaring the results of the November 2020 elections invalid. According to the UN human rights office, more than 10,000 political prisoners are believed to have been detained, and at least 175 have reportedly died in custody. The UN high commissioner called for the immediate release of all those who have been held arbitrarily.

Bachelet also strongly condemned the “vicious, utterly reprehensible” attack in the city of Yangon on 5 December 2021. Video footage showed a security forces’ truck running into unarmed protesters and then firing upon the crowd using live ammunition. Ms Aung San Suu Kyi spent almost 15 years in military detention between 1989 and 2010. In 1991, she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar. After her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won the 2015 elections, she became the state counsellor. A law, stipulating that those with foreign national children cannot become the head of state, prevented Ms Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president. Her international reputation as a human rights defender was later damaged by the way her government handled the Rohingya crisis in 2017 and 2018.