Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison by Myanmar court

Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to four years in prison after what human rights groups described as a show trial, the first in a clutch of criminal cases military authorities have brought against Myanmar’s deposed leader since a coup in February.

The 76-year-old politician was sentenced on Monday to two years in prison by a court in Naypyidaw, the capital, for inciting dissent against the military and two years for violating the country’s disaster management law.

The latter charge was brought against her for allegedly breaching Covid-19 containment rules when she waved to supporters of her National League for Democracy as they passed her residence during last year’s election campaign.

Myanmar’s toppled leader, who held the title state counsellor, faces a total of more than 10 criminal charges and has been allowed only limited legal access since her arrest on February 1. The country’s constitution bars anyone sentenced to prison from holding public office.

In February, she was charged with illegally importing walkie-talkies and jammer equipment found in her home when authorities arrested her. Last week, authorities charged her alongside former president Win Myint with corruption, which carries a maximum 15-year penalty, relating to the purchase or rental of a helicopter.

Under a previous corruption charge brought in June, authorities accused her of accepting gold and cash in bribes.

Aung San Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest under the country’s former military dictatorship. After being released, she shared power with the military during a decade-long democratic transition, which ended when junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing seized power.

The morning of the coup, she was detained alongside hundreds of other NLD officials, including Win Myint, who was also sentenced to four years on Monday for the same two charges.

Following her arrest at her official residence in Naypyidaw, Aung San Suu Kyi was moved in May to an undisclosed location with a small entourage thought to include household staff and her dog, Taichito, her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told the Financial Times in June.

In October, the regime imposed a gagging order on her lawyers, which has hindered journalists’ and observers’ ability to follow her cases. Junta-controlled media have broadcast her standing alongside Win Myint and other co-defendants in a room in an administrative building that had been set up to look like a courtroom.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s two adult sons, who live in the US and UK, have had no direct contact with her since the weekend before the coup, according to a person close to the family. Her relatives have received only “very occasional messages” via third parties, the person said.

Before the gagging order was imposed, Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers were able to transmit a limited number of messages to Myanmar’s people during brief meetings with her.

Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns, said the court had made a “farcical and corrupt decision” that was “part of a devastating pattern of arbitrary punishment that has seen more than 1,300 people killed and thousands arrested” since the coup.

Follow John Reed on Twitter: @JohnReedwrites

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