Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to three more years in prison for electoral fraud

Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to three more years in prison for electoral fraud

Aung San Suu Kyi remains in the sights of the Burmese junta. 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, a source close to the case told AFP, according to which the 77-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner appeared in good health in court.

She must now serve twenty years of detention, 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 vote served as justification for the generals during the Rebellion of February 1, 2021, the army claiming to have discovered more than 11 million irregularities.

sworn enemy

International observers described the vote as “representative” of the will of the Burmese people. “I don’t see Suu Kyi going to a labor camp,” political analyst David Mathieson told AFP. “No act of violence or torture is to be excluded, and Suu Kyi is the sworn enemy that the junta wants to humiliate and eradicate for good”, he however assured.

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. “These closed hearings don’t tell us whether Aung San Suu Kyi’s convictions are credible,” said Manny Maung, country researcher at Human Rights Watch. “I expect her to be found guilty on the other charges against her,” the researcher continued.

Judicial harassment

Suu Kyi had previously been found guilty of acts of corruption, illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, and inciting public disorder. Many voices denounce 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 have been sentenced to heavy sentences. 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,” junta leader Min Aung Hlaing said in an August interview with the UN envoy, in remarks relayed by a state newspaper.

Towards elections in 2023

The army hopes to organize 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 “sham” election, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The putsch plunged the country into chaos. Close to 2,100 civilians were killed by the security forces and more than 15,000 arrested, according to a local NGO. Burmese authorities also sentenced a former British ambassador to Burma and her artist husband to one year in prison on Friday for violating immigration laws.

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