Myanmar court sentences Aung San Suu Kyi to 4 years in first verdicts
A Myanmar court on Monday sentenced Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s ousted civilian leader, to four years for inciting public unrest and violating Covid-19 protocols. She faces a series of decisions that could keep her locked up for the rest of her life.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who was arrested in a military coup in February, had faced a maximum jail term of 102 years out of a total of 11 charges.
His trials, which the United Nations and foreign governments have called politically motivated, were held behind closed doors in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw. The junta has banned its five lawyers from speaking to the media, saying their communications could “destabilize the country.”
“This ridiculous decision is a travesty of justice,” Charles Santiago, Malaysian lawmaker and chair of ASEAN parliamentarians for human rights, said in a statement.
Santiago said the conviction was further proof that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations “must stand the line against this illegal takeover” by the junta.
Prosecutors continued to press charges against Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi as her case progressed. The verdicts on Monday are the first of several expected to be announced in the coming months.
The Covid-19 protocol violation charge stems from an episode in the 2020 election campaign in which Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi stood outside, wearing a face mask and face shield, and waved to partisans passing by in vehicles.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 76, is an imperfect heroine for a struggling nation.
She is presented as an almost divine figure among her supporters in Myanmar, who describe her as a defender of the country’s democracy – a struggle for which she won a Nobel Peace Prize. But its reputation on the international stage has been tarnished by its complicity in the mass atrocities committed by the military against the Rohingyas, a Muslim minority group.
The guilty verdict is likely to galvanize a protest movement that has prompted thousands to take up arms against the military since February, when the generals took power.
On Sunday morning, a military truck rammed into a group of protesters carrying banners bearing his portrait and quotes from his on the streets of Yangon, Myanmar’s most populous city, killing people. At night, protesters continued to demonstrate in the streets, and residents banged on pots and pans to show their anger.
In the months following the coup, people gathered in the streets, doctors and nurses stopped working in protest, and many refused to pay taxes as part of a known campaign. under the name of the Civil Disobedience Movement.
Despite the threat of arrest, the movement still enjoys broad support. Growing numbers of soldiers are defecting, teaming up with armed protesters and insurgent groups to launch lightning attacks against the military.
The junta responded by cracking down – it killed more than 1,300 people and arrested more than 10,600 others, according to the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners (Burma), a rights organization based in Thailand.
For many of her supporters, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was considered the only politician capable of leading Myanmar to full democracy.
After a previous coup in 1962, the military ruled the country for half a century. When Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was elected in 2015, she was forced to share power with the military, which appointed 25% of parliament. In November 2020, she led her party to a landslide election victory, beating the military-backed opposition party.
She has not been seen in public or been able to speak to anyone other than her lawyers since her arrest on February 1. officers arrested them, accusing them of electoral fraud. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi denied the accusation.
Rights activists condemned the charge of incitement, saying it is used to intimidate critics of the military. It carries a maximum penalty of three years and states that anyone who “publishes or circulates a statement, rumor or report” with “intent to provoke, or who is likely to provoke, fear or alarm of the public âcould be held responsible.