Human Rights Watch says the moving of detained 77-year-old State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi into solitary confinement in Naypyitaw Prison is an attempt to break her will which will backfire.
“What we are seeing is the Myanmar junta moving towards a much more punitive phase, towards Aung San Suu Kyi,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for the New York-based NGO. “They are obviously trying to intimidate her and her supporters.”
According to sources, the ousted leader predicted she would be transferred to prison and arranged to leave behind all her possessions not required for her trial.
Agence France-Presse reported that she remained in strong spirits after being moved from house arrest on Wednesday, quoting a legal source.
Robertson told AFP that the junta may think it is showing its strength but it will backfire and boost the resistance movement.
Ko Bo Kyi of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners told The Irrawaddy: “They may think the prison is safer and maybe that it will trouble her more mentally and physically and disconnect her more from the environment.”
The regime has held Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest since last year’s coup in which her government was ousted. It followed her resounding victory in the November 2020 general election.
She has won in every election by a landslide she and her party have contested.
The junta moved her to an unknown location in Naypyitaw in April 2021 where she was accompanied by a few of her staff and her dog.
In solitary confinement, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will have three female prison staff.
The Nobel peace laureate faces numerous charges, carrying a combined sentence of over 100 years.
She remains hugely popular with the electorate.
On Sunday resistance fighters, striking civil servants, anti-regime protesters, political prisoners and expats marked her 77th birthday and called for her release.
Three days later, the state counselor was moved into solitary confinement.
Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told reporters on Thursday that the global body was “very concerned” for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
“The junta’s move goes against everything we’ve been calling for, which was her release and the release of all of the other political prisoners,” Dujarric said.
Since the coup, the junta has detained more than 14,000 people, including elected leaders, lawmakers, activists, students, peaceful protesters and striking civil servants.