Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

BANGKOK – A legal official said a Myanmar court sentenced the deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in prison on Monday for illegal import and possession of walkie-talkies and violation of coronavirus restrictions.

Aung San Suu Kyi was convicted of two other crimes last month and sentenced to four years in prison, which was then halved by the head of government led by the military.

Since the army seized power, dismissed her elected government, and arrested senior members of her National Democratic League in February last year, these cases are one of more than ten cases against the 76-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner. .

If all the charges are convicted, she may be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison.

Supporters and independent analysts of Aung San Suu Kyi say that the charges against her are intended to legitimize the seizure of power by the military and prevent her from returning to politics.

The judgment in the Nay Pyi Taw court on Monday was communicated by a legal official who insisted on anonymity because he was afraid of being punished by the authorities, which restricted the release of information about Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial.

He said that under the Import and Export Law, she was sentenced to two years in prison for importing walkie-talkies, and according to the Telecommunications Law, she was sentenced to one year in prison for owning walkie-talkies. The sentence will be executed simultaneously. She was also sentenced to two years in prison under the Natural Disaster Management Act for allegedly violating coronavirus rules during the campaign.

Aung San Suu Kyi was convicted last month on two other counts — inciting and violating COVID-19 restrictions — and sentenced to four years in prison. A few hours after the verdict was issued, the military-led head of government Min Aung Hlaing halved it.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won an overwhelming victory in the 2020 general election, but the military claimed widespread election fraud, which independent poll observers doubted.

Since her first conviction, Aung San Suu Kyi has been wearing a prison uniform to attend court hearings-a white shirt and brown dragon dress provided by the authorities. She was detained by the military in an unknown location, and state television reported last month that she would serve her sentence.

The hearing will not be open to the media and audience, and the prosecutor will not comment. Her lawyer was a source of information on the proceedings and received a gag order in October.

Although the international community has put pressure on negotiations including her to alleviate the country’s violent political crisis, the military-led government has not allowed any external parties to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi since its seizure of power.

It did not allow the special envoy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to which Myanmar was a member to meet her. This refusal was rarely condemned by other members, who banned Min Aung Lai from attending its annual summit.

Even Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who took over as chairman of the regional group this year and advocated contact with ruling generals, failed to meet her last week. At that time, he became the first head of government to visit Myanmar since the army took over.

According to a detailed list compiled by the Political Prisoners Aid Association, after the army seized power, non-violent demonstrations across the country began rapidly. Security forces suppressed the demonstrations with deadly force, resulting in the death of more than 1,400 civilians.

Peaceful protests continue, but armed resistance has increased amid the severe suppression, and UN experts have warned that the country may fall into civil war.

“Too many criminal charges against Aung San Suu Kyi… not so much self-confidence as despair,” said Mark Farmaner, head of the Burma Movement in the United Kingdom, a democracy promotion organization.

After her first conviction, he said in an e-mail interview that the military believed that the protests could be stopped by arresting Aung San Suu Kyi, her party members, and senior independent political activists, “serious miscalculation.”

“A new mass movement was born. It does not depend on a single leader. There are hundreds of small groups that organize and resist in different ways, from peaceful protests to boycotts and armed resistance,” Farmana said. “Even if more than 7,000 people have been arrested since the coup, which is three times the average number of people detained under the former military dictatorship, the military cannot suppress dissent.”

Aung San Suu Kyi was accused of improperly importing walkie-talkies immediately after the military took over. This was the original reason for her continued detention. The second charge of illegal possession of a radio was filed next month.

On February 1, the day she was arrested, during the search, the radio was confiscated from the gate of her residence and the bodyguard’s barracks.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer argued that these radios were not her personal property and were legally used to help her provide security, but the court refused to dismiss the charges.

During the 2020 election, she was charged with two counts of violating coronavirus restrictions. Last month, she was found guilty on the first charge.

She was also tried by the same court for five corruption crimes. The maximum penalty for each crime is 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine. The sixth corruption charge against her and the deportation of President Win Myint are related to the granting of permission to rent and purchase helicopters, but has not yet been heard in court.

In a separate lawsuit, she was accused of violating the Official Secrets Act for up to 14 years.

In November last year, the Myanmar Election Commission also filed additional charges against Aung San Suu Kyi and 15 other politicians, accusing them of fraud in the 2020 general election. The accusation of the Federal Election Commission appointed by the military may result in Aung San Suu Kyi’s party being dissolved and unable to participate in the new elections that the military promised to hold within two years of its takeover.