After Myanmar’s democratic government was ousted in February 2021 by a military junta, former leader Aung San Suu Kyi was immediately detained. She was charged with crimes ranging from sedition to corruption and is already serving an 11-year prison sentence. Charges against her are widely seen as a way for the current government to back up its authority and keep her out of politics.
Yesterday, Suu Kyi was sentenced to another six years in prison on top of what she’s already serving. It’s impossible to know exactly what happened during the trial because it was held behind closed doors and her lawyers are under a gag order. Brought forward for four different corruption cases, she was charged with abusing her authority to lease public lands and embezzle charity donations. But Suu Kyi has denied all the charges and will probably appeal the decision. Internationally, sanctions have been imposed on Myanmar’s military government, and Suu Kyi’s trials have been condemned.
The military government’s spokesperson Zaw Min Tun in Myanmar could not be reached for comment, though the government previously said that Suu Kyi is being given due process by an independent judiciary and that foreign criticism is unwarranted interference.
“It’s a massive assault against her rights, and part of the campaign to bury her and the NLD forever,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, referring to Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy.
Zin Mar Aung, the foreign minister for Myanmar’s National Unity Government, which was set up by the politicians ousted in the coup, called the decision “yet another act of (the) junta’s desperate attempts to discredit those democratically elected.”