Tracing the Myanmar Junta’s Vengeful Prosecution of Detained Leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

By The Irrawaddy 30 December 2022

The Myanmar junta on Friday sentenced detained elected leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to another seven years in prison after convicting her of a final five corruption charges, bringing the 77-year-old leader’s total jail term to 33 years.

The ousted leader has been in custody since the military overthrew her government in last year’s Feb. 1 coup. She is currently being kept in solitary confinement at the notorious Naypyitaw Prison after initially being detained under house arrest at an undisclosed location.

She was hit with a total of 19 charges—more than any other detainee of the regime, whose leaders loathe her. She was found guilty of all the trumped-up charges against her during her closed-door trials before a junta court, which lasted for 18 months.

The leader has rejected the regime’s accusations as “absurd” while international rights groups have slammed the trials as a sham and called for her release.

Below, The Irrawaddy lists the many charges and sentences the vengeful regime brought against her in less than two years.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (center), wearing a facemask and gloves as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19, waits with her dog to wave to NLD supporters as they drive past in Naypyitaw in September 2020. / AFP

Dec. 6, 2021 – The first verdicts against the detained leader are handed down for two charges: One charge of “disturbing public tranquility” relating to two statements released shortly after the coup by her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), denouncing the takeover and calling on the public to resist military rule, and another of allegedly violating COVID-19 restrictions by “waving” at a convoy of NLD supporters passing her Naypyitaw residence ahead of the 2020 election. She was sentenced to four years in prison together with detained President U Win Myint. Both later had their sentences halved to two years.

Jan. 10, 2022—Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is sentenced to four years in prison on three charges. She is given two years under the Natural Disaster Management Law for allegedly violating COVID-19 rules by visiting the houses of NLD members in Naypyitaw during the campaign period ahead the election; two years under the Export and Import Law; and one year under the Telecommunications Law for illegal possession of walkie-talkies at her Naypyitaw residence on the day of the coup. The junta court rules that the one-year sentence can be served concurrently.

April 27, 2022 – Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly “accepting bribes” from the NLD government’s Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, who testified in October last year that he gave her seven viss (around 11.4 kg) of gold and US$600,000 in 2017 and 2018.

The verdict is based solely on U Phyo Min Thein’s testimony and there is no evidence of the gold or cash being received by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The only picture of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (far left), U Win Myint (center) and Naypyitaw Council chairman Dr. Myo Aung (right) attending their trials at a court in Naypyitaw, taken in May 2021 and released by the junta.

Aug. 17, 2022 – The junta court sentences Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to an additional six years in prison, finding her guilty of four corruption charges relating to a charity she founded in memory of her late mother.

In the four corruption cases decided on Aug. 17, the special court in Naypyitaw Prison says the 77-year-old leader misused her power to rent public land at below market prices and to build a residence with donations intended for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s charity, the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation.

Sept. 1, 2022—The civilian leader is given a further three years in prison with labor under the colonial-era Penal Code for allegedly committing fraud in the November 2020 election.

Sept. 29, 2022—Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Australian professor Sean Turnell, an economic adviser to her NLD government, are each handed three-year prison terms for allegedly breaching the Official Secrets Act.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with staff from the Mobile Library, one of the projects run by the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation. / Daw Khin Kyi Foundation

Oct. 12, 2022—She is given six years each on two counts of corruption in which she is accused of accepting a bribe of US$550,000 from businessman Maung Weik. The junta court rules that the sentences can run concurrently.

Dec. 30, 2022—The former State Counselor is sentenced to seven years in prison on five corruption charges relating to the rental and purchase of a helicopter for use during natural disasters and state affairs, including rescues and emergencies. They are the last of 19 charges brought against her by the regime since 2021, bringing her total sentence to 33 years’ imprisonment.