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Suu Kyi sentenced to four years for 'inciting public unrest' against military

NAYPYIDAW, Dec 6: A Myanmar court controlled by the military regime on Monday sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi, former State Counsellor, and Win Myint, former President, to four years in prison each on charges of inciting public unrest against the military following the coup and breaching the covid protocols during the campaign for the last November election, in a closed hearing.

Verdicts are expected later this month on two other charges such as violating the Official Secrets Act and importing walkie-talkies illegally. The sentencing is said to be a ploy to prevent her from coming back to power as the Constitution debars anyone jailed for committing crimes from contesting elections.

The military had ousted the democratically elected Suu Kyi (76), a Nobel laureate, in a coup in February 2021 and put her under house arrest. Protesters took to the streets against the military takeover and violence has been continuing as the junta used force to suppress the opposition.

As leaders from across the world condemned the military regime for suppressing a democratic movement using force, the Myanmar TV announced that the Junta chief has reduced by two years the jail sentence of four yerars each handed to Aung Suu Kyi and Win Myint by the court.

Suu Kyi and Win Myint will serve the remaining two years sentences in the current place of detention, and not in prison, the TV reported.

Britain and other European countries have condemned the military regime for stifling Opposition and suppressing freedom and democracy.

"The sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi is another appalling attempt by Myanmar’s military regime to stifle opposition and suppress freedom and democracy," Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called the sentencing “another step towards the dismantling of the rule of law and a further blatant violation of human rights in Myanmar.”

United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called the trial a “sham” and said it was “politically-motivated.”

“These cases cannot provide a legal veneer to the illegitimacy of the coup and military rule,” she said.

Half a century of military rule in Myanmar

Aung Suu Kyi served as State Counsellor of Myanmar (equivalent to a Prime Minister) and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2016 to 2021. She was the chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) since 2011 and the general secretary from 1988 to 2011. Her struggle led to Myanmar's transition from military rule to partial democracy in the 2010s. She was under house arrest for 15 years till 2010. Her party boycotted the 2010 elections. In the 2015 elections, her party won a landslide victory, taking 86% of the seats. As the Constitution prohibited her from assuming the office of the President because she was married to a foreigner, a new post of State Counsellor similar to Prime Minister was created for her. Last November election also she had won. She faced international criticism over the genocide of Rohingyas. In February 2021, the military seized power again and placed her under house arrest. Myanmar got freedom from the British Empire in 1948 under the army and military rule had continued till 2015.

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