A Burmese court has sentenced deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in prison for inciting violence and failing to comply with pandemic control measures. This is the first sentence in the judicial demolition orchestrated by the military junta after its February uprising. Win Myint, president and main ally of the Nobel laureate, also received four years for the same crimes.
On Suu Kyi’s judicial horizon await crimes such as violation of the national import law for walkie-talkies used by her bodyguards, electoral fraud, illegal receipt of gold bullion and half a million euros, and breach of a musty colonial state secrets act. The sum of his sentences is around a century and there is little expectation that he will enjoy anything resembling a fair trial. The court is under the umbrella of the coup plotters, has closed the doors to international observers and banned lawyers from speaking to the press. The development of the proceedings is known from the succinct official communiqués and human rights organizations have reported all kinds of outrages.
The conviction for incitement to violence is motivated by the requests to his people to oppose the coup and the letter sent by his party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), to different international organizations asking them not to recognize the military government. The crime of ignoring security protocols against the pandemic, on the other hand, refers to an electoral event last year.
The Army seized Parliament at the swearing-in session following the November elections that had handed another landslide victory to the NLD. Suu Kyi was arrested shortly thereafter along with the bulk of her political party and has been under house arrest ever since. It is not known whether the sentence will send her to prison or whether she will be able to serve it in her colonial mansion by the capital’s lake.
The conviction provoked the predictable condemnatory echo. For Ming Yu Hah of Amnesty International, the sentences are “the latest example of the military’s determination to eliminate all opposition and extinguish freedoms” in Burma. “No one can be fooled. Since the day of the coup, all the charges against Aung San Suu Kyi and dozens of parliamentarians have been nothing more than an excuse by the junta to justify itself,” said Charles Santiago, chairman of the ASEAN human rights group. ASEAN, the umbrella organization of the region’s governments, did not invite General Min Aung Hlaing to the November summit. This unprecedented decision by ASEAN to break its long-standing lukewarmness came after Burma had blithely ignored the five points agreed upon to return to the path of democracy. It is doubtful that statements from the international community and threats of economic sanctions will bend the will of a military junta that has already survived for half a century behind the world’s back.
The United States and the UN had protested this Sunday against the latest and umpteenth massacre by the security forces. Between three and five people were killed yesterday in Rangoon when a military vehicle rammed into anti-junta demonstrators. A military statement acknowledged the arrest of 11 people but hushed up the deaths reported by witnesses and the press. More than 1,200 people have been killed and 10,000 have been detained in the short 10 months of military rule, according to the Burma Political Prisoners Association.