Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 more years in prison

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi was charged four more years in prison on Monday after finding her guilty of illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies and violating coronavirus regulations.

According to a legal official, a court in Myanmar sentenced a former leader.

Suu Kyi was convicted last month on two more charges and sentenced to four years in prison, which was then reduced in half by the head of the military-installed government.

The cases are among around a dozen lodged against the 76-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate since the army overthrew her elected government and arrested prominent members of her National League for Democracy party last February.

If she is proven guilty of all charges, she may face a prison sentence of more than 100 years.

Suu Kyi’s supporters and independent analysts argue that the charges against her are fabricated in order to legitimize the military’s seizure of power and prevent her from returning to politics.

The judgment was delivered Monday in the capital’s Naypyitaw court by a legal official who insisted on anonymity for fear of repercussions from the authorities, who have restricted the publication of information regarding Suu Kyi’s trials.

She was sentenced to two years in prison under the Export-Import Law for importing the walkie-talkies and one year under the Telecommunications Law for possessing them, he said. Both sentences will be served consecutively. In addition, she was sentenced to two years in prison under the Natural Disaster Management Law for allegedly breaking coronavirus restrictions while campaigning.

Suu Kyi was sentenced to four years in prison last month after being convicted of two other offenses, inciting and violating COVID-19 restrictions. Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the military-installed administration, reduced the sentence by half just hours after it was imposed.

Suu Kyi’s party scored a huge victory in the 2020 general election, but the military claimed significant voting fraud, which independent pollsters dispute.

Suu Kyi has been attending court sessions in prison clothing — a white top and a brown longyi skirt provided by the government — since her first guilty conviction. She is being imprisoned by the military in an unknown location, where she was supposed to complete her term, according to state media last month.

The media and spectators are not permitted to attend the sessions, and the prosecutors do not speak. In October, her lawyers, who had been a source of information on the proceedings, were served with gag orders.

Since taking power, the military-installed government has not permitted any outside party to meet with Suu Kyi, despite international calls for negotiations that include her that could help relieve the country’s terrible political situation.

It would not enable her to meet with a special envoy from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member. Min Aung Hlaing’s rejection drew a rare censure from fellow members, who prohibited him from attending the organization’s annual summit conference.

Even Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who took over as chair of the regional group this year and favors contact with the ruling generals, missed her last week when he became the first head of government to visit Myanmar since the army’s takeover.

According to a detailed list published by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, the military’s seizure of power was swiftly met by nonviolent nationwide demonstrations, which security forces repressed with lethal force, killing nearly 1,400 citizens.

Peaceful protests have continued, but in the midst of the harsh repression, an armed opposition has grown to the point where U.N. experts have warned that the country is on the verge of civil war.

“Throwing a slew of criminal allegations at Aung San Suu Kyi… stinks more of desperation than confidence,” said Mark Farmaner, director of the democracy advocacy group Burma Campaign UK.

In an email interview following her initial convictions, he stated that the military “massively miscalculated” in believing that arresting Suu Kyi, her fellow party members, and veteran independent political activists would deter protests.

“A new mass movement has emerged that does not rely on a single leader.” “Hundreds of tiny organizations are organizing and opposing in various ways, including peaceful protest, boycotts, and armed resistance,” Farmaner said. “Despite arresting almost 7,000 people since the coup, three times the average number held during the previous military rule, the military has been unable to repress dissent.”

Suu Kyi was charged with fraudulently importing walkie-talkies shortly after the military took power, which served as the original pretext for her ongoing confinement. The next month, a second charge of illegally possessing the radios was filed.

During a search on Feb. 1, the day she was arrested, the radios were taken from her residence’s front gate and her bodyguards’ barracks.

Suu Kyi’s lawyers argued that the radios were not in her personal possession and were being used properly to help provide for her protection, but the court refused to drop the accusations.

During the 2020 election campaign, she was accused of two charges of breaking coronavirus limitations. Last month, she was convicted guilty on the first count.

The same court is also trying her on five counts of corruption. Each count carries a potential punishment of 15 years in jail and a fine. A sixth corruption accusation against her and ousted President Win Myint has still to be tried in connection with giving permits to rent and acquire a helicopter.

Separately, she is charged with breaking the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum term of 14 years.

In November, Myanmar’s electoral commission issued further charges against Suu Kyi and 15 other legislators for potential election fraud in 2020. The allegations brought by the military-appointed Union Election Commission could lead to Suu Kyi’s party being dissolved and barred from participating in a fresh election, which the military has promised will take place within two years of its takeover.