Ousted Myanmar Leader Suu Kyi Handed 2-Year Jail Sentence

A Myanmar court has sentenced Myanmar’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to two years in prison after convicting her on two counts of dissent and breaking Covid-19 rules, Burmese media outlet MRTV reported yesterday.

Earlier on Monday, the Nobel Peace Prize Winner was given a four-year prison sentence. The Zabuthiri Court in the Burmese capital, Naypyidaw, first sentenced Suu Kyi to two years for each count she faced: incitement and violating the Disaster Management Act’s Section 25. However, the military government later reduced her sentence to two years.

It was the first verdict in several cases against the civilian leader that could lead her to life in prison. 

The 76-year-old was Myanmar’s state counselor and de facto leader before the army, chaired by military junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, seized power ten months ago, arguing that last November’s elections had been fraudulent.

Ms. Suu Kyi faces 11 counts in total for combined maximum sentences of more than 100 years, including several corruption charges that carry maximum penalties of 15 years in prison each.

The other charges are for reportedly violating Covid-19 restrictions during her election campaign in 2020, incitement, illegally importing and possessing communication devices (walkie-talkies), and violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act. The latter charge carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

Ms. Suu Kyi has denied all the allegations, widely criticized as “unfair,” with supporters saying the charges are political. It is unclear when the ousted leader, who has been held in an undisclosed location, will be jailed.

Myanmar’s court also sentenced co-defendant Win Myint, the former Burmese president and ally of Ms. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, to four years in prison on the same counts. But subsequently, the army halved his sentence, sources close to the trial reported.

The army’s accusations against the elected leaders have been widely criticized by the international community. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the trial was a “sham” and would “deepen rejection of the coup.”

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called on Myanmar’s junta to release political prisoners and allow democracy’s return to the country, arguing that arbitrarily arresting elected politicians could lead to more unrest.

Also, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns Ming Yu Hah described the court’s decision as “farcical and corrupt.”

“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,” Ha stated.