Myanmar’s ousted civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, was convicted on Monday and sentenced to four years in prison for possessing walkie-talkies in her home and violating Covid-19 protocols.
In all, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 76, has been sentenced to six years in prison so far, with several other charges pending against her.
Monday’s guilty verdict on three counts comes on top of her December 5 conviction for inciting public disorder and a separate charge of breaching Covid-19 protocols. Initially, he was sentenced to four years in prison based on the charges, and this sentence was cut in half by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of the February 1 coup that forced her to step down from office.
As the first anniversary of the coup approached, the court found Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of violating Myanmar’s Import and Export Law and the Telecommunications Act by possessing telecommunication devices. Her defenders said the radios belonged to her security guards, and that the charges were bogus and politically motivated.
She was sentenced to two years in prison under the Covid protocol, two years for importing walkie-talkies, and one year for violating the communications law. Sentences related to the walkie-talkie fee are played synchronously.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was held incommunicado at a home in Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar. Amnesty International described the charges against the radios verbally, saying “they indicate that the army desperately needs an excuse to embark on a witch hunt and intimidate anyone who challenges them.”
The hardware import charge – the first of many against her – was filed on February 3, two days after the coup, and court proceedings lasted nearly a year.
The guilty verdict for violating Covid protocols stemmed from an episode during the 2020 campaign, in which she stood outside, wearing a face mask and shield, with her dog, Taichito, by her side, waving to supporters passing by in vehicles. The same incident was the basis for her conviction on an almost identical charge in December.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi faces at least seven other charges – including five corruption charges – with a possible maximum sentence of 89 years if convicted on all remaining charges.
Human Rights Watch said that the military regime was appearing absurd by amassing convictions on flimsy, politically motivated charges.
“The Myanmar Military Council’s circus of secret proceedings on bogus charges is about steadily accumulating more convictions against Aung San Suu Kyi so that she remains in prison indefinitely,” said Phil Robertson, the group’s deputy director for Asia.
Ms Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and led her party, the National League for Democracy, to landslide victories three times between 1990 and 2020, but the military only allowed her to form a government once, in 2016.
Understanding the coup in Myanmar
She spent a total of 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2010. She later damaged her reputation as an international symbol of democracy by not speaking out against the military’s brutal ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, which has driven more than 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh.
Since the coup, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and ousted president, U Win Myint, have been placed under house arrest in undisclosed locations near the capital, Naypyidaw. Mr Win Myint was also convicted on December 5 of violating Covid-19 protocols and sentenced to four years in prison. The coup leader also cut his sentence in half.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s trials are taking place in a house in Naypyidaw that has been converted into a courtroom. Members of the public are not permitted to attend, and her attorney is prohibited from speaking on the case.
On December 30, a police court sentenced Daw Cheri Htit, 30, a police lieutenant and former bodyguard to Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, to three years in prison for violating police code of conduct by posting messages on Facebook that the court deemed inflammatory. .
In one post, she simply said, “We miss you, Amy,” using the Burmese word for mother. He also accused the former bodyguard of communicating with the National Unity Government, the shadow government formed after the coup by ousted elected officials and other opponents of the military.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s conviction on Monday came as the military continued its efforts to quell pro-democracy protests, fight a nascent resistance movement and fight ethnic groups seeking autonomy. Soldiers and police have killed at least 1,447 civilians since the coup and arrested nearly 8,500, according to the Association to Aid Political Prisoners, a rights group.
Myanmar’s military has been accused of committing the biggest massacre on Christmas Eve when soldiers killed at least 35 fleeing villagers and burned their bodies. Save the Children, one of the groups that condemned the massacre, said two of its staff were among the dead as they were returning home for the Christmas holidays.
Sui Li Wei Contribute to the preparation of reports.