The 77-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who had previously been sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison, was found guilty on four corruption charges on Monday, August 15. PETER DEJONG/AP
Former Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has already been sentenced to 11 years in prison, was sentenced to an additional six years in prison during a riverside trial on Monday 15 August, which the international community has denounced as political.
The 77-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner was found guilty of four corruption charges. According to a source close to the case, she appeared before the military court in good health and did not comment after the verdict was read.
Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested during the February 1, 2021 military coup that ended a decade of democratic transition in Burma and placed in solitary confinement in a prison in Naypyidaw in late June. In this capital’s prison, his trial, which began more than a year ago, is continuing behind closed doors, with his lawyers barred from speaking to the press and international organizations.
She is the target of a variety of crimes (violation of a law on state secrets from the colonial era, electoral fraud, hate speech, corruption, etc.) and risks decades of imprisonment. In late April, the Nobel laureate was sentenced to five years in prison under the Anti-Corruption Law for receiving $600,000 and more than 11 kilos of gold in bribes from the former Yangon minister in charge of the region.
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A US State Department spokesman said Monday that this was an “affront to the judiciary and the rule of law,” calling for the “immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all those unjustly detained, including democratically elected officials.”
The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, for his part denounced an “unjust” conviction and called on the Burmese regime for “immediate and unconditional release”. [Aung San Suu Kyi]and all political prisoners, and to respect the will of the people”.
For the NGO Human Rights Watch, “the trials fabricated by the junta, the torture of detainees and the execution of activists largely illustrate the contempt for the lives of the people of Burma.”
“Without national and international outrage, the trials to punish Suu Kyi and her relatives aim to erase Burma’s democratic past,” said Agence France-Presse political analyst David Mathieson. “Their intention is clear to everyone except the international community,” whose sanctions are considered by some observers to be too lenient, he continued.
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Many voices are denouncing a judicial harassment they say is motivated by political considerations and is aimed at finally getting in touch with the daughter of the independence hero and big winner of the 2015 and 2020 elections. Several of their relatives were sentenced to severe sentences (75 years in prison for a former minister, 20 years for one of his associates) and a former member of his party, Phyo Zeya Thaw, was sentenced to death and executed at the end of July.
Others went into exile or went into hiding. Some of these ousted elected officials formed a parallel Government of National Unity (NUG) to undermine the junta’s legitimacy. But it controls no territory and has not been recognized by any foreign government. Aung San Suu Kyi remains a very popular figure in Burma, even if her international image has been tarnished by her inability to defend the Rohingya Muslim minority, victims of army abuses in 2016 and 2017, a “genocide”. was damaged, Washington said.
The military junta isolated on the international stage
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) special envoy to Burma, tasked with finding a way out of the crisis, was not allowed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi during her last visit in late June.
Many opponents of the military regime also believe their fight must go beyond the Nobel Prize to try to end the generals’ grip on Burma’s politics and economy. Militias have taken up arms against the junta in several regions of Burma, violating the principle of non-violence advocated by Aung San Suu Kyi.
The army in power is defending its plan to organize elections in the summer of 2023. The United States has already rejected this “simulacrum” of elections that “under the current conditions cannot be free or fair,” according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Increasingly isolated from the international scene, the junta violently seized power on the pretext of alleged fraud in last year’s elections, which Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide victory, ending a decade of democratic transition. The coup plunged the country into chaos. Almost 2,100 civilians were killed by security forces and more than 15,000 arrested, according to a local NGO.