On January 10, a court in Burma sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected State Counsellor of Burma, to four years in prison for allegedly illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating the telecommunications law, and for violating coronavirus restrictions. This follows a four-year sentence from a trial on December 6, 2021, for allegedly inciting public unrest and breaking COVID-19 protocols. The earlier sentence was later reduced to two years.
Additionally, Aung San Suu Kyi is facing ten or more further charges. If she is convicted, she could be sentenced to up to one hundred years in prison.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that “the conviction of the State Counsellor following a sham trial in secretive proceedings before a military-controlled court is nothing but politically motivated,” while Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division Phil Robertson noted that the process “is all about steadily piling up more convictions against Aung San Suu Kyi so that she will remain in prison indefinitely."
“We call on the regime to immediate release Aung San Suu Kyi and all those unjustly detained, including other democratically elected leaders, said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.
“The regime’s sham judicial processes to attack its political opponents, the rule of law, as well as its continued use of violence against the Burmese people only underscore the urgency of restoring Burma’s path to democracy.”
Aung San Suu Ky is leader of the National League for Democracy, or NLD political party. In November 2020, the NLD won the national election by a large margin in both Houses of Burma’s Assembly of the Union. On February 1, 2021, the Burmese military, whose proxy party won just 33 of 476 seats in Parliament, staged a coup. Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested along with President Win Myint, numerous ministers, their deputies, and members of Parliament. The spurious charges leveled against her did not diminish her popularity, which today stands at nearly 80 percent.
“The people of Burma … continue to show that they do not want to spend another day under a military dictatorship, and we’ll continue to support them and all those working peacefully to restore Burma’s path to democracy,” said Spokesperson Price.
“We continue to call on the regime to engage in constructive dialogue with all parties to seek a peaceful resolution in the interests of the people.”