Junta Court Hands Leading Myanmar LGBTQ+ activist 22 Years in Jail

By The Irrawaddy 14 December 2022

Prominent LGBTQ+ activist Sue Sha Shin Thant was sentenced to 22 years in prison by a junta-controlled court inside Mandalay’s Obo Prison on Monday, according to a source close to the court.

She was detained after junta forces in a car rammed her motorcycle in October last year. The activist was then charged with incitement, terrorism, and murder.

Earlier this year she was given three years in prison for incitement by a junta-run court. On Monday she was handed another 22 years – 20 years for terrorism and two years for another incitement charge.

LGBTQ+ people in Myanmar have been targeted by the regime for participating in anti-regime protests since last year’s coup. Some have joined the armed resistance.

Shint Thant is being kept in a separate detention area in Obo Prison, said trans woman writer Saw Han Nwe Oo, who is close to the activist. “It is neither the men’s wing nor the women’s wing. But it is also okay to keep her on the women’s wing as she has female gender identity.”

She added that Shin Thant is allowed to receive parcels in prison from family members.

“We have been like sisters since before the coup, so I am concerned about her. But she is more mature than me and flexible. So I think she will stay strong and get through this,” she said.

Saw Han Nwe Oo, who was imprisoned along with the activist, said Shin Thant was hung upside down from a tree and beaten during interrogation.

The writer was arrested at her house in Mandalay in September last year but released a month later in a general amnesty.

A prominent advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, Shan Thant helped draft the bill on Protection of Women Against Violence. Before the coup, she was also a Union-level representative for the Youth Committee in Mandalay Region.

In June, a transgender prisoner detained in Sagaing Region’s Monywa Prison for anti-junta activities was sexually abused by a prison officer, according to the LGBT Alliance-Myanmar. Reports are rife of regime officials sexually abusing not just female detainees but also male and LGBTQ+ prisoners at interrogation camps and jails.