The Burmese junta continues to charge Aung San Suu Kyi: the former leader was sentenced Friday to an additional three years in prison for electoral fraud, during a river trial, denounced as political by the international community. This umpteenth sentence is accompanied by forced labor, said a source close to the case, according to which the 77-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner appeared in good health in court.
She must now serve 20 years in prison, but she risks more than 120 years in all, for the multiple offenses of which the junta accuses her. The court found her guilty of fraud during the November 2020 legislative elections that her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), largely won. This ballot served as justification for the generals during the coup of February 1, 2021, the army claiming to have discovered more than 11 million irregularities.
International observers called the vote a “representative” of the will of the Burmese people. Arrested at the time of the putsch, which ended a decade of democratic transition in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi was placed in solitary confinement in a prison in Naypyidaw at the end of June. It is in this prison in the capital that his trial continues, which began more than a year ago, behind closed doors, his lawyers being prohibited from speaking to the press and international organizations. She was sentenced in mid-August to six years in prison under the anti-corruption law.
Aung San Suu Ky was previously convicted of illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, inciting public disorder, and taking bribes. Many voices denounce a judicial harassment which would be motivated by political considerations: to permanently touch the daughter of the hero of independence and big winner of the elections of 2015 and 2020.
Several of his relatives were sentenced to heavy sentences: 75 years in prison for a former minister, 20 years for one of his collaborators. A former member of his party sentenced to death, Phyo Zeya Thaw, was executed at the end of July. The junta defends itself from these accusations, and even promises to open negotiations with Aung San Suu Kyi once her trial is over.
“Although we could have taken tougher actions, we are lenient with her”said junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, during an interview in August with the UN envoy, in remarks relayed by a state newspaper.
His government “has taken legal action in accordance with the law”, he insisted, taking as an example the former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and the former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, sentenced in their respective countries. Aung San Suu Kyi remains a popular figure in Burma, even if her international image has been damaged by her inability to defend the Muslim minority of the Rohingyas, victims of abuses by the army in 2016 and 2017 – a “genocide” according to Washington.
Special envoys from the UN and ASEAN were not allowed to see her during their last visit, as a symbol of the failure of diplomatic efforts undertaken for several months, which did not get Burma out. chaos.
The army hopes to hold elections in the summer of 2023, as soon as the country is “peaceful and stable”according to Min Aung Hlaing, who also announced a “reform” of the electoral system. The United States has already called on the international community not to support this project, a “simulacre” election, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The putsch plunged the country into chaos. Nearly 2,100 civilians were killed by security forces and more than 15,000 arrested, according to a local NGO.
Former UK ambassador sentenced to one year in prison
A former UK ambassador to Burma has been sentenced to a year in prison by Burmese authorities, a diplomatic source said on Friday. Vicky Bowman, in office between 2002 and 2006, and her husband, Burmese artist Htein Lin, a former political prisoner, were accused of having violated immigration laws. The former diplomat had been detained since August 25 in Insein prison, in Yangon, for not having indicated the address where she lived, different from that registered with the authorities, according to a press release from the junta.
Her husband was prosecuted for having helped his wife to live in a home different from the one declared. They risked up to five years in prison.