Prison term increased to 20 years . . .
Last week, a special court in military-ruled Myanmar sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader ousted in the February 2021 military coup, with an additional three years in prison. This sentence is the first to include hard labour. The court found her guilty of election fraud in 2020, when her party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide victory. She was detained last year and is facing a total prison term of 20 years on 11 counts. Aung San Suu Kyi has denied all charges against her and is being held in solitary confinement. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has said that he will consider moving her to house arrest.
Dozens of charges . . .
Examples of the other charges levied against Aung San Suu Kyi are corruption, breaching COVID-19 protocols, greeting a crowd, importing and possessing walkie-talkies, inciting dissent against the military, divulging state secrets, and sedition. In August, the Supreme Court announced that her residence – the site where she has spent nearly 15 years under house arrest since 1989 – will be auctioned off. For many, the house is a symbol of democracy in the country. If found guilty on the remaining charges, she could face a maximum imprisonment of almost 200 years. This move is considered a way to prevent the 77-year-old Suu Kyi from making a political comeback and to further legitimize the military’s power before possible elections next year.
International reaction to the fury . . .
United Nations Special Envoy to Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, has condemned the labour sentence, stating that she is extremely concerned about Suu Kyi’s health and will not visit Myanmar again unless she can see Suu Kyi. The latest meeting between the special envoy and the military government came under widespread criticism, as it was seen as legitimizing the military regime and failed to make any real accomplishments. More than 850 organizations have written a joint statement calling on the UN to withdraw its special envoy. Canada placed three types of sanctions on Myanmar: an arms embargo, an asset freeze, and a technical assistance prohibition. Meanwhile, the future of Myanmar’s democracy remains under a dark cloud.