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Three more years in prison for Aung San Suu Kyi

Three more years in prison for Aung San Suu Kyi

The Burmese junta continues to charge Aung San Suu Kyi: the former leader was sentenced on 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 20 years in prison, but she risks in all more than 120 years for the multiple offenses of which the junta accuses her. His lawyers will appeal the decision, the source added.

Trial behind closed doors for more than a year

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 ballot served as justification for the generals during the coup of February 1, 2021, the army claiming to have discovered more than 11 million irregularities. For their part, international observers described the vote as “representative” of the will of the Burmese people.

Former President Win Myint, who was on trial on the same charges, was also sentenced to three years in prison, the source said.

“I don’t see Aung San Suu Kyi going to a labor camp,” political analyst David Mathieson told AFP. “No act of violence or torture can be ruled out, and Aung San Suu Kyi is the sworn enemy that the junta wants to humiliate and eradicate for good”, he however assured.

Read also: Aung San Suu Kyi transferred to prison and placed in solitary confinement

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 do not reveal whether the convictions of Aung San Suu Kyi are credible,” Manny Maung, Burma specialist with Human Rights Watch, told AFP. “I expect her to be found guilty on the other counts against her,” she continued.

Resumption of executions

Aung San Suu Kyi was previously convicted of bribery, illegal importation and possession of walkie-talkies, violation of coronavirus restrictions, and inciting public disorder.

Many voices denounce a 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 her relatives have been sentenced to heavy penalties. A former member of his party sentenced to death, Phyo Zeya Thaw, was executed at the end of July.

Read also: Burmese junta carries out four executions, the first in decades

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.

Elections in 2023?

Aung San Suu Kyi remains a popular figure in Burma, even if her international image has been damaged by her inability to defend the Muslim minority of the Rohingyas, victims of abuses by the army in 2016 and 2017 – a “genocide” according to Washington. Special envoys from the UN and ASEAN were not allowed to see her during their last visit, as a symbol of the failure of diplomatic efforts undertaken for several months, which did not get Burma out. chaos.

Read also: In Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees commemorate the massacres they suffered in Burma

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, an electoral “simulacrum”, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The putsch plunged the country into chaos. Nearly 2,100 civilians have been killed by 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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