Burma

Ousted Suu Kyi, President to Serve Sentences Under House Arrest: Myanmar Junta

By The Irrawaddy 7 December 2021

Detained State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint will be placed under house arrest, the Myanmar junta said after a regime court sentenced them to four years’ imprisonment after convicting them both of two offenses—sedition and breaching COVID-19 restrictions—on Monday. On the same day the duo’s sentences were commuted to two years by junta chief Min Aung Hlaing.

The 76-year-old Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was previously detained under house arrest for almost 15 years by the former military regime, before being released in 2010.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and 69-year-old U Win Myint, who were detained in the wake of the military coup on Feb. 1, are currently detained at unknown locations in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw. The verdicts in the first two cases against them were handed down during a hearing in Naypyitaw on Monday.

The commuting of the sentences was announced in a statement on Monday evening. The junta’s Myawady TV also announced that the duo will have to serve the remaining two years of their sentences under house arrest.

It said, “All citizens must respect the right and fair judgment exercised under the existing law to ensure the rule of law,” but added that the junta chief’s “statement of pardon reducing the sentences of U Win Myint and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi by two years out of four years” was based on Section 401 of the Penal Code, thus “keeping them detained in the current location for the remaining two years of imprisonment.”

However, there was no mention of Dr. Myo Aung, the ousted chairman of the Naypyitaw Council, who was sentenced to two years for sedition under Article 505(b) of the Penal Code.

The trio were held responsible for statements issued by the National League for Democracy (NLD)’s Central Executive Committee in the second week of February, according to sources close to the court. The NLD’s statements on Feb. 7 and 13 denounced the junta for using force to seize power and called on the public to resist military rule.

Over the 10 months since the junta’s Feb. 1 coup that ousted the civilian NLD government, another 10 cases have been filed against her 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. 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.

Many at home and abroad reacted to the regime’s move as a publicity stunt, as the ousted civilian government leaders should not have been arrested and charged in the first place.

“The innocent leaders have been kidnapped” and “given an unjust ruling” read comments under a post carrying news of the junta’s sentence commutation, reflecting many other readers’ views questioning the rule of law in Myanmar.

The junta chief is “above the law and there is no justice for people,” said another commenter.

“You [the junta] can only imprison the body, not the mind: the people’s love and compassion for Mother [Daw Aung San Suu Kyi] can’t be jailed,” wrote another commenter on the post.

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