Aung San Suu Kyi Gets 4 Years on Walkie-Talkie and Covid Charges

Myanmar’s ousted civilian leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was found guilty on Monday and sentenced to four years in prison for possessing walkie-talkies in her home and violating Covid-19 protocols.

In total, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 76, has been sentenced to a total of six years in prison so far, with many more charges pending against her.

Monday’s guilty verdict on three counts is in addition to his December 5 conviction on charges of inciting public unrest and a separate count of violating Covid-19 protocols. Initially sentenced to four years on those charges, that sentence was cut in half by the army’s commander-in-chief, Major General Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of the February 1 coup that forced her to leave office.

As the coup’s first anniversary approaches, the court found Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of violating Myanmar’s import and export law and its telecommunications law by possessing the communication devices. His defenders have said that the walkie-talkies belonged to his security team and that the charges were false and politically motivated.

She was sentenced to two years for the Covid protocol, two years for the charge of importing the walkie-talkies and one year for violating the telecommunications law. The sentences connected to the walkie-talkie charges must be executed at the same time.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has been held incommunicado in a house in Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar. Amnesty International called the walkie-talkie charges bogus, saying they “suggest that the military is desperate for a pretext to embark on a witch hunt and intimidate anyone who challenges them.”

The charge of importing the devices, the first of many charges brought against him, was filed on February 3, two days after the coup, and court proceedings have lasted nearly a year.

The guilty verdict for violating Covid protocols originated from an episode during the 2020 election campaign in which he stood outside, wearing a mask and face shield, with his dog, Taichito, by his side, and greeted the sympathizers passing by in vehicles. The same incident was the basis for his conviction on a nearly identical charge in December.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi faces at least seven more charges, including five charges of corruption, with a possible maximum sentence of 89 years if found guilty on all the remaining charges.

Human Rights Watch said the military regime was making itself look ridiculous by racking up convictions on flimsy and politically motivated charges.

“The Myanmar junta’s ring of secret trials on bogus charges is constantly racking up more convictions against Aung San Suu Kyi to keep her 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 army allowed her to form a government only once. , in 2016.

He spent a total of 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2010. He later damaged his reputation as an international icon of democracy by failing to speak out against the brutal ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims by the military, which led to more than 700,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh.

Since the coup, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and the ousted president, U Win Myint, have been under house arrest at undisclosed locations near the capital, Naypyidaw. Win Myint was also convicted on December 5 of violating Covid-19 protocols and sentenced to four years. The coup leader also cut his sentence in half.

The trials of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi are held in a house in Naypyidaw that was converted into a courtroom. No member of the public is allowed in attendance and his attorneys are prohibited from speaking about the case.

On December 30, a police court sentenced Daw Cherry Htet, 30, a police lieutenant and former bodyguard of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, to three years in prison for violating the rules of police conduct by posting messages on Facebook that the court found inflammatory. .

In one post, he simply said, “We miss you Amay,” using the Burmese word for mother. The former bodyguard was also accused of communicating with the Government of National Unity, the shadow government formed after the coup by ousted elected officials and other opponents of the army.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s conviction on Monday came as the army continued its effort to suppress pro-democracy protests, fight a fledgling resistance movement and fight ethnic groups seeking autonomy. Soldiers and police have killed at least 1,447 civilians since the coup and detained nearly 8,500, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, a rights group.

The Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is known, was accused of committing one of its largest massacres 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 members were among the dead when they returned home for the Christmas holidays.

Sui-Lee Wee contributed to reporting.

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