Myanmar’s deposed civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is currently facing two years in jail after her original sentence was halved by the country’s military this week.
Previously, Suu Kyi was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of incitement and breaking Covid-19 rules. This marks the first verdict against the Nobel Peace Prize winner since the military seized power back in February.
Suu Kyi, 76, was Myanmar’s state counselor and de facto leader of the country before she was ousted and detained by the military ten months ago and slammed with almost a dozen charges that when combined added up to a maximum sentence of 100 years.
According to media reports, several of the charges involved corruption, which each carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, violating Covid-19 pandemic restrictions during the 2020 election campaign, incitement, illegally importing and possessing walkie talkies, and breaking the colonial-era Official Secrets Act — which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.”
Suu Kyi has rejected all allegations and her supporters are claiming that the charges against her are political. The Zabuthiri Court in Naypyidaw initially sentences Suu Kyi to two years in prison after they found her guilty of incitement, and two years after being found guilty of violating section 25 of Disaster Management Law. The military later cut down both sentences to one year.
Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, said in a statement, “the farcical and corrupt decision is part of a devastating pattern of arbitrary punishment.”
“The harsh sentences handed down to Aung San Suu Kyi on these bogus charges are the latest example of the military’s determination to eliminate all opposition and suffocate freedoms in Myanmar.”
“There are many detainees without the profile of Aung San Suu Kyi who currently face the terrifying prospect of years behind bars simply for peacefully exercising their human rights. They must not be forgotten and left to their fate,” Yu Hah expressed.
More than 1,300 people have been killed by Myanmar security forces since the initial coup, and more than 10,000 individuals have been arrested according to advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
The United Nations Security Council called for an immediate cessation of violence across Myanmar as troops continued to increase tension and hostility towards civilian militias. Nationwide protests against the junta troops have been occurring since the coup, and all have been met with brutal crackdowns and media suppression.
“As violence escalates, displacing tens of thousands of people and setting up a humanitarian crisis in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, the situation in Myanmar today is alarming in the extreme. Without a decisive, unified and swift international response this can and will get worse.”
The verdict came one day after security forces entered into a protest in the city of Yangon. At least five people were killed due to a vehicle plowing through anti-junta protesters. One reporter who witnessed the incident told media outlets that it was a military vehicle that rammed through demonstrators.
According to a statement from Myanmar’s military, eleven protesters were arrested, including two men and one woman who were injured. The statement from the military did not acknowledge the reported deaths or vehicle attack.
The UN in Myanmar condemned the incident slamming the “reported attack on a number of unarmed civilians in Kyimyindaing Township, Yangon, in which a vehicle belonging to security forces rammed into protesters who were then fired upon with live ammunition leading to deaths and injuries to numerous people.”
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.