Aung San Suu Kyi gets seven more years in jail under Myanmar military

A military-controlled court in Myanmar on Friday sentenced ousted democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi to an additional seven years of prison time, after finding guilty of five charges of corruption pertaining to misusing state funds for the purchase and lease of a helicopter.

Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been in prison since her ouster as country’s state counsellor after the military coup in February 2021, often in solitary confinement.

Previously, the charges had already racked up more than 26 years of sentencing, including accepting bribes, illegally possessing walkie-talkies and leasing government-owned land at discounted rates.

The latest sentencing concludes an 18-month-long series of trials, ending up in total prison time of 33 years.

Meanwhile, the military junta has journalists from attending the hearings with Suu Kyi’s lawyers also blocked from speaking to media.

On Friday, the road leading to the prison holding Suu Kyi in the military-built capital Naypyidaw was clear of traffic ahead of the verdict.

Former Myanmar president Win Myint, who was co-accused with Suu Kyi in the latest trial, received the same sentence, a source said, adding that both would appeal.

Since her trial began, Suu Kyi has been seen only once — in grainy state media photos from a bare courtroom — and has been reliant on lawyers to relay messages to the world.

Many in Myanmar’s democracy struggle, which Suu Kyi has dominated for decades, have abandoned her core principle of non-violence, with “People’s Defence Forces” clashing regularly with the military across the country.

Last week, the United Nations Security Council called on the junta to release Suu Kyi in its first resolution on the situation in Myanmar since the coup.

It was a moment of relative unity by the council after permanent members and junta allies China and Russia abstained, opting not to wield vetoes following amendments to the wording.

Reaction

The corruption charges were “ridiculous”, said Htwe Htwe Thein, an associate professor at Curtin University in Australia.

“Nothing in Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership, governance, or lifestyle indicates the smallest hint of corruption,” she said.

“The question now will be what to do with Aung San Suu Kyi,” said Richard Horsey of the International Crisis Group. “Whether to allow her to serve out her sentence under some form of house arrest, or grant foreign envoys limited access to her. But the regime is unlikely to be in any rush to make such decisions.”

The military alleged widespread voter fraud during elections in November 2020 that were won resoundingly by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), though international observers said the polls were largely free and fair.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military seized power, ending the Southeast Asian nation’s brief experiment with democracy and sparking huge protests.

The junta has responded with a crackdown that rights groups say includes razing villages, mass extrajudicial killings and airstrikes on civilians.

More than one million people have been displaced since the coup, according to the United Nations children’s agency.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here