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Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 more years in prison


A placard with Aung San Suu Kyi is held up by an anti-coup demonstrator in Yangon on March 2, 2021.

Hkun Lat – Getty Images News | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi for illegally importing, possessing walkietalkies and violating the coronavirus restriction to her ousted leadership.

Suu Kyi, who was also convicted of two other charges last month, was sentenced to a four year prison term. The sentence was reduced by the leader of the military-installed administration.

These cases were among more than a dozen filed against the Nobel Peace Prize winner, 76 years old. They are being brought after the army overtook her elected government last February and arrested top officials of the National League for Democracy.

She may be sentenced to over 100 years in prison if found guilty of the entire charges.

Suu Kyi’s backers and independent analysts claim that the accusations against her were concocted to justify the military’s takeover of power and stop her returning to politics.

Monday’s verdict was delivered by Naypyitaw court’s legal representative. The official insisted on anonymity because they feared punishment by the authorities. They have limited the availability of information regarding Suu Kyi’s trials.

She was sentenced under the Export-Import Law to spend two years for import of the walkie-talkies, and one year under Telecommunications Law to possess them. They will both be serving concurrent sentences. For allegedly violating the coronavirus rules in campaigning, she was sentenced to a two-year term under Natural Disaster Management Law.

Suu Kyi was convicted last month on two other charges — incitement and breaching Covid-19 restrictions — and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. The sentence was reduced by Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing within hours of its issuance.

Suu Kyi’s party won an overwhelming victory in 2020’s general election. However, the military claimed widespread electoral fraud. Independent poll watchers are skeptical of this assertion.

Since her first guilty verdict, Suu Kyi has been attending court hearings in prison clothes — a white top and a brown longyi skirt provided by the authorities. The military is holding her at an unspecified location. State television last month reported that she will serve her sentence.

Media and spectators cannot attend the hearings. The prosecutors are not allowed to comment. In October, gag orders were issued to her lawyers who provided valuable information about the proceedings.

Despite international pressure to include her in talks that would ease the country’s current political crisis, the military-installed government still hasn’t allowed outside parties to meet with Suukyi.

She would not let a Special Envoy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Myanmar’s member, meet her. Min Aung Hlaing was barred from the annual summit because of this refusal.

Hun Sen was the Cambodian prime minister and advocate of engagement with the military. He became the first head government official to travel to Myanmar in the aftermath of the army takeover.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a list of civilians killed by security forces after military seizing power was quickly overthrown by peaceful nationwide protests.

Although peaceful demonstrations are continuing, an increased level of armed resistance is evident amid the crackdown. Experts at the U.N. have expressed concern that the country might be falling into civil war.

The Myanmar junta is putting Aung San Suu Kyi in jail indefinitely by creating a courtroom circus for secret proceedings and bogus accusations. According to Phil Robertson (deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch), Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing as well as the leaders from the junta view her still as a significant political threat and must be eliminated permanently.

Robertson released a statement saying that Aung San Suu Kyi, once again, has been a sign of the things happening to her country. He also said that she had returned to playing the political hostage for military men bent on securing power using violence and intimidation. “Fortunately, for her, as well as the future of Myanmar,” Robertson said in a statement.

Suu Kyi, who was accused of improperly importing the walkietalkies shortly after the military took over, was subsequently convicted. Another charge was filed against her for illegally possessing radios the month after.

During a raid on February 1, her house was searched and her radios found at the barracks where her bodyguards kept her safe, the radios were taken from her home.

Suu Kyi’s lawyers claimed that the radios weren’t in her possession and could legitimately be used for her safety. But the court rejected the motion to dismiss.

Two counts were filed against her for violating restrictions relating to coronavirus during the campaign for 2020. Last month, she was found guilty of the first count.

The same court is currently trying her on five other counts of corruption. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and a $500 fine. The sixth charge of corruption against Win Myint, the ousted president, in relation to granting permits for rent or purchase of a helicopter has yet to be tried.

Separately, she was accused of violating Official Secrets Act. This law carries a maximum sentence if it is not removed.

Myanmar’s election commission added more charges to Suu Kyi in November against 15 politicians, for alleged fraud during the 2020 elections. Suu Kyi’s party could face dissolution and inability to take part in an election that the military promises will be held within two years.