Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to four years in prison

A court in Myanmar has sentenced the country’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in jail, according to media reports.

A spokesman for Myanmar’s military told the AFP news agency that Aung San Suu Kyi was found guilty on Monday of incitement and of violating COVID-19 rules.

Zaw Min Tun said she received two years in prison on each of the two charges.

Former President Win Myint was also jailed for four years under the same charges, he said, adding that the pair will not be taken to prison yet.

“They will face other charges from the places where they are staying now” in the capital Naypyidaw, he said, without giving further details.

The Reuters and the Associated Press news agencies, citing sources familiar with the proceedings, also said Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint were sentenced to four years in prison each.

The trial in Naypyidaw has been closed to the media, while the military has barred Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers from communicating with the media and the public.

The ruling on Monday is the first in a dozen cases the military has brought against the 76-year-old since it deposed her civilian government in a coup on February 1.

Other cases against the Nobel Peace Prize laureate include multiple charges of corruption, violations of a state secrets act, and a telecoms law that altogether carry a maximum sentence of more than a century in prison.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who had spent 15 years in house arrest under a previous military government, denies all the charges.

Her supporters say the cases are baseless and designed to end her political career and tie her up in legal proceedings while the military consolidates power.

Charles Santiago, a Malaysian legislator and chair of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), condemned Monday’s sentence, calling it a “travesty of justice”.

“Since the day of the coup, it’s been clear that the charges against Aung San Suu Kyi, and the dozens of other detained MPs, have been nothing more than an excuse by the junta to justify their illegal power grab,” Santiago said, urging the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to “hold the line against this illegal takeover”.

The 10-member regional bloc has been spearheading diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Myanmar, and Santiago said Monday’s ruling demonstrates “the junta’s continuing contempt for ASEAN” and its peace plan, agreed with Myanmar’s military in April and which includes initiating dialogue between the opposing sides in the country.

“We continue our call for ASEAN to ban all junta representatives from its meetings, prevent junta generals from travelling in the region, and to engage with the duly-elected National Unity Government,” he said, referring to a parallel administration set up by deposed elected legislators.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup, paralysed by protests and instability that escalated after the military’s deadly crackdown on its opponents, who it calls “terrorists”. Security forces have killed at least 1,303 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a human rights group that records killings by the country’s security forces.

At least 354 opponents of the coup have also been sentenced to jail or to death, according to AAPP, including Aung San Suu Kyi’s aide, Win Htein, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail in October.

Amnesty International’s Ming Yu Hah said the sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday on “bogus charges are the latest example of the military’s determination to eliminate all opposition and suffocate freedoms in Myanmar”.

“The court’s farcical and corrupt decision is part of a devastating pattern of arbitrary punishment that has seen more than 1,300 people killed and thousands arrested since the military coup in February,” she said, calling for swift, decisive and unified action from the international community.

“The international community must step up to protect civilians and hold perpetrators of grave violations to account, and ensure humanitarian and health assistance is granted as a matter of utmost urgency,” she said.

Source – AlJazeera