The Ministry of Justice of Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG) has slammed the fresh jail sentence handed by the junta to State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi—a figure known for her moral integrity—on a corruption charge as “clearly ridiculous”.
On Wednesday, a special court set up by the junta in Naypyitaw handed down a five-year prison sentence against the detained leader. The sentence will be added to the six years she is already serving for other cases brought against her by the regime.
The verdict was for a corruption case in which she was accused of accepting a bribe in the form of gold bars from the former chief minister of Yangon. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who was ousted in the military takeover in February last year, denied the allegations as completely false.
In response to the latest sentence, NUG Minister of Justice and renowned lawyer U Thein Oo said in a statement released on Monday that the junta pretended to have evidence that the nation’s most respected leader had accepted US$600,000 worth of gold bars as bribes.
“Knowing her entire life has been devoted to fighting for the freedom of the people of Myanmar, including decades in prison and under house arrest, such a claim is clearly ridiculous,” he responded.
The 76-year-old leader is widely respected among Myanmar people at home and abroad for her moral values, and beloved for standing with the people; they reject the junta’s corruption accusation against her.
NUG Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs U Moe Zaw Oo, who is also executive director of a charity founded by the ousted leader, told The Irrawaddy in an interview that the detained leader had given so much of her own money to charity, she no longer has a place of her own or any financial possessions.
“I don’t understand how they could charge such a person with corruption,” he said, adding that he believed the case is the result of a personal grudge.
The Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-chaired National League for Democracy (NLD) won a repeat landslide victory in the 2020 general election, defeating the military’s proxy party and allied parties. Just a few hours before the newly elected lawmakers were due to take their seats, the military staged a coup on Feb. 1 last year, arresting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and others, claiming electoral fraud despite the fact that independent election observers said they found no irregularities in the election.
Since then, she has been detained at an undisclosed location and faced a barrage of 20 nonsensical legal cases. Of those, 13 are corruption cases.
NUG Minister of Justice U Thein Oo denounced the junta’s so-called trials of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as unjust, lacking in credibility, a farce and a propaganda stunt in Monday’s statement.
“This propaganda stunt reveals two things about this murderous junta, once again. First, that they are shameless about the farce of a legal system they have inflicted on the people of Myanmar. Second, that they are still terrified of the power Daw Aung San Suu Kyi still has as a symbol of courage in defense of democracy,” the minister added.
You may also like these stories: