Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi Jailed for 4 Years in 1st Post-Coup Trial

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A court in military-controlled Myanmar on Monday found Aung San Suu Kyi guilty in her first trial since her ouster in a February coup and sentenced her to four years in prison, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said.

Suu Kyi was found guilty of inciting dissent against the military, a violation of Section 505(B) of the country’s colonial-era penal code. She was also found in breach of the Natural Disaster Management Law for flouting Covid rules while campaigning during national elections in 2020 since annulled by the junta.

The civilian leader has been detained by the military regime since it wrested control of the government, triggering widespread protests in the nation that have led to economic devastation and renewed civil conflict.

“The sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi is another appalling attempt by Myanmar’s military regime to stifle opposition and suppress freedom and democracy,” U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement. She warned that the “arbitrary detention of elected politicians only risks further unrest.”

The army has sought to violently quell unrest, killing more than 1,300 demonstrators and making more than 10,000 arrests, prompting condemnation even among Myanmar’s neighbors in Southeast Asia. The American embassy on Sunday said it was “horrified” by reports that security forces opened fire against, ran over and killed several peaceful protesters in Yangon that morning.

When asked about the verdict, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing hopes parties and factions in Myanmar will work “within the constitutional and legal framework, bridge their differences and keep up the democratic transition in line with the country’s interests that are hard-won.”

The trials represent a push by the military to discredit Suu Kyi, 76, after her party won more than 80% of the seats in the election one year ago. The military declared the election as tainted by widespread fraud even though international observers said it was mostly free and fair.

Military leader Min Aung Hlaing’s regime has slapped her with at least 12 criminal charges including abuse of power to win elections, divulging state secrets and possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies. It remains to be seen whether Suu Kyi will be allowed to appeal the decision.

“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,” Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns Ming Yu Hah said in a statement.

Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest for nearly 15 years before her release in 2010 as the country embraced democratic reforms. Since soon after the coup she’s been held in an unknown location in Naypyidaw, far from her restive supporters, and she hasn’t been seen publicly outside of court appearances.

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