Burma

Myanmar Junta Sentences Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint to Four Years in Prison

By The Irrawaddy 6 December 2021

A Myanmar junta court on Monday sentenced the detained civilian leaders State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint to four years in jail each after the pair were found guilty on charges of sedition and breaching COVID-19 restrictions.

Dr. Myo Aung, the ousted Chairman of Naypyitaw Council, was also sentenced to two years for sedition under Article 505(b) of the Penal Code during the hearing in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw.

Over ten months after Suu Kyi was detained following the junta’s February 1 coup that ousted the civilian National League for Democracy (NLD) government, these are the first verdicts to be handed down against her. She faces another ten cases filed by the military regime, all widely-believed to be trumped-up charges. They include illegal possession of walkie-talkies, corruption cases and alleged breaches of the Official Secrets Act.

With ongoing weekly trials, more verdicts against Suu Kyi are expected later this month. If found guilty, she faces a total of 104 years in prison. Many observers believe the charges to be politically motivated and an attempt by the junta to exclude her from politics permanently.

“The harsh sentences handed down to Aung San Suu Kyi on these bogus charges are the latest example of the military’s determination to eliminate all opposition and suffocate freedoms in Myanmar,” said Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns Ming Yu Hah.

“The court’s farcical and corrupt decision is part of a devastating pattern of arbitrary punishment that has seen more than 1,300 people killed and thousands arrested since the military coup in February,” she added.

The Amnesty deputy regional director also urged the world not to forget about the thousands of detainees in Myanmar who lack Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s high profile and who are currently imprisoned “simply for peacefully exercising their human rights”.

76-year-old Suu Kyi, 69-year-old U Win Myint and Dr. Myo Aung are currently being detained at an unknown location in Naypyitaw. Although there was no mention of whether they will be sent to prison, it is thought that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will most likely be kept under house arrest.

She was previously detained under house arrest for almost 15 years by the former military regime, before being released in 2010.

On Monday, the regime court said that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Win Myint and Dr. Myo Aung were responsible for the statements of the NLD’s Central Executive Committee issued in the second week of February, according to sources close to the court.

The NLD’s statements on February 7 and 13 denounced the junta for using force to seize power and called on the public to resist military rule.

Article 505(b) of Myanmar’s Penal Code punishes anyone deemed to be causing fear or alarm through an offense against the state or for disturbing “public tranquility” with up to two years in prison.

The State Counselor was also sentenced to two years in jail for breaching COVID-19 restrictions by “waving” at a convoy of NLD supporters passing her Naypyitaw residence ahead of the November 2020 general election. Suu Kyi was wearing a mask and a face shield at the time.

Sources close to the accused said it is likely that they will appeal the verdicts.

On Monday, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was also in court to hear the cases against her for illegal possession of walkie-talkies, under which she is accused of breaking the Import and Export Law and the Telecommunications Law.

Both the defense and prosecution gave their final arguments on the cases.

Suu Kyi faces another charge of breaching COVID-19 restrictions under the National Disaster Management Law on Tuesday, when defense witness Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, the detained former Mandalay Region Chief Minister, is expected to appear.


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