The judicial stranglehold of the Burmese junta is tightening a little more on Aung San Suu Kyi. The former leader was sentenced on Monday to four years in prison, in one of the chapters of a trial where she risks decades of detention.
Already sentenced in December to four years’ imprisonment for violating restrictions on the coronavirus (a sentence reduced to two years by the generals in power), she was this time convicted in particular of illegally importing walkie-talkies, a detailed a source close to the case.
Under house arrest since the military coup of February 2021, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been held in this secret place since her arrest almost a year ago.
A trial to get rid of political opponents
The former leader of the country has been indicted on numerous occasions by the junta in recent months. It is a question of sedition, corruption, incitement to public disturbances, electoral fraud … Her trial is being held behind closed doors before a court specially set up in the capital Naypyidaw, where she is being tried alongside the one of his faithful, the former President of the Republic Win Myint, also arrested on February 1.
“Everyone knows that these accusations are false (…) The soldiers use this tactic of fear to keep her in arbitrary detention” and permanently remove her from the political arena, assured Manny Maung, researcher for the NGO Human Rights Watch., Interviewed by AFP. This new sentence “risks further reinforcing the anger of the Burmese population,” she said.
Several relatives of the former leader have already been sentenced to heavy sentences: 75 years in prison for a former minister, 20 years for one of his collaborators. Others went into exile or went into hiding.
A country in chaos
Since February 2021, the coup has plunged the country into chaos: hundreds of civilians have been killed by security forces and anti-junta citizen militias have taken up arms across Burma.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s political influence has greatly diminished since the putsch, with a new generation taking up arms against the junta and possessing more progressive visions.
But the daughter of the hero of independence, an icon of democracy during the years she spent under house arrest under previous military dictatorships, still holds a special place in the hearts of the Burmese. The sentence pronounced against him in December had already “deeply irritated and provoked deluges of protests on social networks”, reminded Manny Maung.
The Nobel Prize winner has been cut off from the world for nearly a year, her only external links being limited to brief meetings with her lawyers, who are banned from speaking to the press and international organizations.
At least 175 people, including many members of his party, the National League for Democracy (LND), are believed to have died in detention, “most likely as a result of ill-treatment or acts of torture,” denounced the Minister at the beginning of December. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.
More than 1,400 civilians have been killed by security forces since the coup, according to a local NGO, the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners. The generals report a much less heavy toll. They justified their passage in force by alleging massive fraud during the 2020 elections, won overwhelmingly by the NLD.