Suu Kyi Jailed Two Years by Myanmar Regime, Drawing U.K. Rebuke
(Bloomberg) -- Myanmar’s military regime found Aung San Suu Kyi guilty in her first trial since her ouster in a February coup, drawing condemnation from the U.K. and other countries.
Suu Kyi, who was initially sentenced her to four years in prison, had her jail term released to two years later on Monday, according to a statement on the state broadcaster MRTV. She will serve her sentence at her current undisclosed location and thus avoid time in prison, according to a pardon attributed to military chief Min Aung Hlaing, who is also chairman of the State Administration Council.
She was found guilty of inciting dissent against the military, a violation of Section 505(B) of the country’s colonial-era penal code. She was also found in breach of the Natural Disaster Management Law for flouting Covid rules while campaigning during national elections in 2020 since annulled by the junta.
Ex-president Win Myint, who faced the same charges, has also had his jail term reduced from four years to two, and he will also be allowed to stay at his current location.
“All citizens are subject to follow fair and accurate justice in accordance with the existing laws to ensure the rule of law but the chairman of the State Administration Council allowed a pardon for U Win Myint and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to reduce their prison sentence from four years to two, and allowed them to serve their jail term at the place where they are now detained,” the state broadcaster MRTV announced late Monday.
Suu Kyi has been detained by the military regime since it wrested control of the government, triggering widespread protests in the nation that have led to economic devastation and renewed civil conflict.
The civilian leader was kept under house arrest for nearly 15 years before her release in 2010 as the country embraced democratic reforms. Since soon after the coup she’s been held in an unknown location in Naypyidaw, far from her restive supporters, and she hasn’t been seen publicly outside of court appearances.
The reaction from around the world to the court order was swift.
The “unjust conviction of Aung San Suu Kyi and the repression of other democratically elected officials are yet further affronts to democracy and justice in Burma,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “We urge the regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all those unjustly detained, including other democratically elected officials.”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in a statement warned that the “arbitrary detention of elected politicians only risks further unrest.”
The army has sought to violently quell unrest, killing more than 1,300 demonstrators and making more than 10,000 arrests, prompting condemnation even among Myanmar’s neighbors in Southeast Asia. The American embassy on Sunday said it was “horrified” by reports that security forces opened fire against, ran over and killed several peaceful protesters in Yangon that morning.
When asked about the verdict, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing hopes parties and factions in Myanmar will work “within the constitutional and legal framework, bridge their differences and keep up the democratic transition in line with the country’s interests that are hard-won.”
The trials represent a push by the military to discredit Suu Kyi, 76, after her party won more than 80% of the seats in the election one year ago. The military declared the election as tainted by widespread fraud even though international observers said it was mostly free and fair.
Military leader Min Aung Hlaing’s regime has slapped her with at least 12 criminal charges including abuse of power to win elections, divulging state secrets and possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies. It remains to be seen whether Suu Kyi will be allowed to appeal the decision.
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With assistance from Bloomberg