Aung San Suu Kyi found guilty over walkie-talkie charges

Myanmar’s ousted civilian leader jailed for four more years, after being found guilty on other charges last month.

Myanmar's Aiung San Suu Kyi in a tradiitonal outfit and wearing a string of pearls listens at an event in Yangon in 2019
State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, who was overthrown by the military, has been sentenced to four more years in prison by a closed court [File: AFP]

A military-run court in Myanmar has found civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was overthrown in last February’s coup, guilty on at least three charges and sentenced her to four more years in prison.

The 76-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner was detained as the military seized control of the country nearly a year ago and faces nearly a dozen charges that critics say are politically motivated.

She was sentenced to two years for the possession of unlicensed walkie-talkies, and two years for breaching coronavirus curbs, legal sources said.

“These verdicts are a travesty of justice by a judicial system that is proving to be a mere pawn of the Myanmar military, and further evidence that the junta is determined to eliminate the political opposition after their resounding victory in the 2020 elections,” Charles Santiago, a Malaysian MP representing ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights said in a statement.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who denies all charges, is on trial in a closed court and could be sentenced to a total of more than 100 years in prison if she is found guilty on all the counts against her. Her lawyers were ordered not to talk about her case last October and the media are barred from covering proceedings.

The veteran politician was convicted last month on “incitement” and breaching COVID-19 protocols and given a four-year prison sentence, which a few hours later was halved by coup leader Min Aung Hlaing in what was portrayed as a pardon.

In December, state television reported that that sentence would be applied at Aung San Suu Kyi’s “current detention” place. It is not clear where she is being held and whether the same approach would be taken in Monday’s case.

Rights group Amnesty International said on Twitter on Monday the new convictions were “the latest act in the farcical trial against the civilian leader”.

It called for her release along with thousands of others “unjustly detained” since the coup.

Cambodia visit

The conviction came after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visited Myanmar and met Min Aung Hlaing in a trip that was heavily criticised by people inside Myanmar, as well as by civil society groups.

Hun Sen did not meet Aung San Suu Kyi and there was no mention of her in the joint statement that he released with coup leader Min Aung Hlaing following the visit on Sunday.

Cambodia this year took over from Brunei as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which has been trying to end the political crisis triggered by the Myanmar coup.

A previous ASEAN special envoy cancelled his visit to the country after the generals refused to allow him to meet her, leading the group to bar Min Aung Hlaing from attending its annual summit meeting last year.

The generals have also been under fire from ASEAN over their refusal to follow a Five Point Consensus agreed in April last year to resolve the crisis, but there are concerns that Hun Sen, who wields almost unfettered power in Cambodia, will take an easier line.

Aung San Suu Kyi spent years under house arrest under Myanmar’s previous military regimes.

The military-drafted constitution that laid down the conditions for the country’s democratic reforms excluded her from the presidency because she married a UK citizen and her two children are British.

Min Aung Hlaing has sought to justify his coup by claiming fraud in the November 2020 elections that returned Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party to power in a landslide. The elections commission said there was no evidence of wrongdoing in the poll.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies