Myanmar junta says ‘no one above the law’ after Aung San Suu Kyi verdict

Ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to two years in detention on Monday

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Tuesday 07 December 2021 19:42
<p>Aung San Suu Kyi appears before the International Court of Justice at The Hague in 2019</p>

Aung San Suu Kyi appears before the International Court of Justice at The Hague in 2019

Myanmar’s military junta have said that the imprisonment of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi showed no one was “above the law”.

The junta's information minister Maung Maung Ohn said at a rare virtual briefing that the Nobel Laureate was sentenced according to the nation’s laws.

The military took over the country by force in February this year, ousting Ms Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government, and has since presided over a brutal and deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Ms Suu Kyi was sentenced to two years in detention on Monday on charges of incitement and breaching coronavirus restrictions. The 76-year-old was initially sentenced to four years in prison but the military junta leader Min Aung Hlaing reduced it to two years’ detention in her current location, according to the state TV report.

The National Unity Government, which is the country’s shadow civilian administration, said after the verdict that the “brutal military junta” had shown that they “see themselves as above the law”.

The NUG, a broad alliance of anti-coup groups that include members of Suu Kyi’s ousted ruling party, said in a statement: “The global community must further target sanctions against the military, their personnel, the businesses they own, and any known affiliates and intermediaries.”

President Win Myint was also sentenced to four years, and later saw this was reduced to two years in detention.

The sentencing was condemned by governments and rights groups.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss said the jailing was another “appalling attempt” by the regime to stifle opposition.

“The United Kingdom calls on the regime to release political prisoners, engage in dialogue and allow a return to democracy. The arbitrary detention of elected politicians only risks further unrest,” she said.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said the conviction was “unjust” and called for the release of Ms Suu Kyi and other detained elected officials.

India, which shares a porous border with Myanmar, called for the rule of law and democratic processes to be upheld.

“We are disturbed at the recent verdicts. As a neighbouring democracy, India has been consistently supportive of the democratic transition in Myanmar,” foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a statement.

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations Commissioner for human rights, called the proceedings before a military-controlled court “politically motivated”.

She warned: “This verdict against Aung San Suu Kyi will only deepen rejection of the coup. It will harden positions when what is needed is dialogue and a peaceful, political settlement of this crisis.”

In light of the verdict, demonstrators took to the streets in the country’s largest city Yangon, to stage a flash protest on Monday. Images showed a small group giving three-fingered salutes that signal opposition to the junta.

On Sunday, the junta rammed a military truck at a crowd of protestors, killing at least five people and injuring several others. At least 1,300 people have been killed since the February coup and over 120 have reportedly died in custody.

The information minister claimed at the Tuesday briefing that the protest was the result of pressure from anti-coup groups “so that young people get emotional”, however, the crowd management by authorities “is sometimes handled unintentionally”.

“Such kind of protests should be prevented according to the law,” he said.

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