Myanmar military court sentences Aung San Suu Kyi to another 4 years in jail

A military court sentenced deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in prison Monday for the illegal possession of walkie-talkies and breaking Covid-19 rules, raising to six years the jail time imposed on her in closed-door proceedings, sources familiar with the trial said.

Nearly a year after she was overthrown and arrested by the army, the 76-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi got two years for violating export-import laws and one year for violating the communications law for the walkie-talkies, and two years for violating the natural disaster management law.

Monday’s sentences—which for the walkie-talkies will be served concurrently—are the latest of a dozen charges that could bring combined maximum sentences of more than 100 years, sources close to the court told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

On Dec. 6 Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint received two years for incitement against the military and two years for violating coronavirus restrictions, which the junta chief reduced to two years of house arrest.

The former State Counselor’s lawyers have been barred since October by Myanmar’s military rulers from releasing information or speaking publicly about the two cases being tried.

She has rejected all allegations, which her supporters, rights groups and foreign governments have condemned as political.

Kyaw Htwe, a member of the Central Committee of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, criticized the verdicts given by the court, calling them unjust.

"They had plotted to do this right from the beginning, and they built up their cases and prosecuted her only after her arrest," he said. "The courts and judges are acting in accordance with the junta's wishes instead of giving decisions in accordance with the law."

Myanmar's courts and the ruling military "State Administration Council" should be separate entities, according to the provisions of the 2008 Constitution which the military says it respects, added veteran Myanmar lawyer Kyee Mint.

"The military said that they staged their Feb. 1 coup in accordance with the 2008 Constitution, but nothing we are seeing now is line with that constitution," he said.

“The Myanmar junta’s courtroom circus of secret proceedings on bogus charges is all about steadily piling up more convictions against Aung San Suu Kyi so that she will remain in prison indefinitely," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

The fear of her continued political power explains “the junta’s willingness to appear as global laughingstocks as they secure convictions in a kangaroo court on the flimsiest, politically motivated charges," he said in a statement from Bangkok.

“The Myanmar military junta is running roughshod over the human rights of everyone, ranging from Suu Kyi and other elected officials of the previous government to the CDM [Civil Disobedience Movement] activists on the street,” added Robertson.

Charles Santiago, a Malaysian parliamentarian and member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, called Monday's verdicts "a travesty of justice by a judicial system that is proving to be a mere pawn of the Myanmar military, and further evidence that the junta is determined to eliminate the political opposition after their resounding victory in the 2020 elections."

Aung San Suu Ky is one of more than 8,000 people currently under detention for opposing the Feb. 1, 2021 military coup that overthrew civilian rule in Myanmar, Santiago said.

"The international community must take immediate and proactive measures to protect the people and support the pro-democracy movement -- including by establishing a coordinated global arms embargo, and recognizing the National Unity Government formed by elected representatives of the people."

According to the Association Assistance for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military regime has handed out 577 sentences among more than 8,500 civilians arrested or detained since the Feb. 1 coup that deposed Aung San Suu Kyi and her elected government. The junta has killed 1,459 civilians, the Bangkok-based group says.

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