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  06 Dec 2021, 16:28
Update : 06 Dec 2021, 19:09

Myanmar junta jails Suu Kyi for four years

    YANGON, Dec 6, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Myanmar's junta jailed ousted leader Aung 
San Suu Kyi on Monday for four years for incitement against the military and 
breaching Covid rules, the first of a series of possible sentences that could 
see the Nobel laureate imprisoned for decades.

   Suu Kyi, 76, has been detained since the generals staged a coup and ousted 
her government on February 1, ending the Southeast Asian country's brief 
period of democracy.

   She has since been hit with a series of charges, including violating the 
official secrets act, illegally importing walkie talkies and electoral fraud.

   On Monday Suu Kyi was sentenced to two years for incitement against the 
military and another two years for breaching a natural disaster law relating 
to Covid, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun told AFP by phone.

   Former president Win Myint was also jailed for four years on the same 
charges, he said, but added they would not yet be taken to prison.

   "They will face other charges from the places where they are staying now," 
he added, referring to their detention in the capital of Naypyidaw but 
without giving further details.

   The incitement conviction related to statements Suu Kyi's National League 
for Democracy party published shortly after the coup condemning the generals' 
takeover.

   The Covid charge is linked to last year's election, which the NLD won in a 
landslide, but the details are not clear with the government imposing a gag 
order on the court proceedings. 

   Journalists have been barred from attending the special court hearings in 
Naypyidaw and Suu Kyi's lawyers were recently banned from speaking to the 
media.

   In recent weeks, other senior members of the NLD have received long 
sentences.

   A former chief minister was sentenced to 75 years in jail, while a close 
Suu Kyi aide was jailed for 20.

   Suu Kyi also faces multiple corruption charges -- each of which carries a 
possible sentence of 15 years in prison. 

   Monday's verdict was on "the soft charges which the regime could have 
spared her, but chose not to," independent analyst Soe Myint Aung, told AFP.

   "The military seems to have doubled down on its highly oppressive approach 
toward the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi herself."

   - 'Retribution' -

   Amnesty International immediately condemned the sentences against Suu Kyi.

   "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 Amnesty deputy 
regional director for Campaigns Ming Yu Hah.

   "The court's farcical and corrupt decision is part of a devastating 
pattern of arbitrary punishment that has seen more than 1,300 people killed 
and thousands arrested since the military coup in February." 

   UK foreign minister Liz Truss slammed the sentence, saying "the arbitrary 
detention of elected politicians only risks further unrest".

   International Crisis Group's Myanmar senior advisor Richard Horsey told 
AFP the sentences "were about retribution and a show of power by the 
military".

   "It would be surprising, though, if she were sent to prison. More likely, 
she'll serve out this and subsequent terms at her house or a regime 'guest 
house'."

   The military, which has dominated life in Myanmar for decades, has 
defended its coup, claiming fraud allegations in last year's general 
election.

   International pressure on the junta to restore democracy swiftly has shown 
no sign of knocking the generals off course, and bloody clashes with anti-
coup protesters continue across the country. 

   On Sunday soldiers wounded at least three people after ramming a car into 
peaceful demonstrators in commercial hub Yangon, eyewitnesses said.

   State media said one had sustained serious wounds and 11 had been arrested 
for protesting "without asking for permission". 

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