The former civilian leader of Myanmar, a democracy advocate who once spent 15 years in prison for her efforts to reform the nation, was sentenced to four years by the military, which took over the country in a February coup.
Former Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced by a military court on Monday in the first of several anticipated sentencings to be issued against the one-time leader.
"The conviction of the State Counsellor following a sham trial in secretive proceedings before a military-controlled court is nothing but politically motivated," said United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet in response to the conviction of Suu Kyi. "The military is attempting to instrumentalize the courts to remove all political opposition."
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Suu Kyi was detained during the February coup and charged with "illegally importing and using communication devices found in her home." The court has since added additional charges to Suu Kyi's case, totaling 11 charges as of December. She currently faces a maximum of 102 years in prison, according to reports.
The charges have ranged from violating COVID restrictions while campaigning in 2020 to inciting unrest through a statement released by her party after the Myanmar military had arrested her. The trial has been a significant point of contention in the international community.
"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," said humanitarian organization Amnesty International in a statement on Monday.
"The regime’s continued disregard for the rule of law and its widespread use of violence against the Burmese people underscore the urgency of restoring Burma’s path to democracy," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Monday. "We urge the regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all those unjustly detained, including other democratically elected officials."
The sole source of information about the trials to date has been Suu Kyi's lawyers, who were recently served with gag orders forbidding them from releasing information, reports the BBC.
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Suu Kyi is one of 10,600 people the Myanmar military has arrested since February, reports the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. The AAPP estimates that more than 1,300 people have been killed in Myanmar since the coup.
Suu Kyi made a name for herself when she spent nearly 15 years in military prison between 1989 and 2010 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts to bring democracy to Myanmar.