Myanmar Court Delivers And Postpones First Verdicts In Aung San Suu Kyi Trial

Deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced on December 6th to four years in jail on charges of incitement and breaching COVID-19 rules. According to Al Jazeera, this sentence was reduced to a two-year term of detention in her current location, which is undisclosed.

Aung San Suu Kyi also faces other charges including alleged possession of unlicensed walkie-talkies and signal jammers, as well as corruption. Al Jazeera reported that police claimed to have found several of these devices that were imported illegally and used without permission. AFP reports that an anonymous source said police did not obtain a search warrant for the raid. 

The New York Times reported that these charges carry combined maximum sentences of more than 100 years in prison. Aung San Suu Kyi denies all charges, and her supporters say that these charges are baseless and only a tactic used by the military to consolidate power. 

Reuters and AFP reported that anonymous sources with knowledge of the case said the judge did not give a reason for the deferral. According to the New York Times, the leader of Myanmar’s junta, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, reduced the sentence hours after the first conviction.

According to Reuters, the verdict in the latest case against Aung San Suu Kyi was postponed until December 27th and the decision was deferred to January 10th. . Military generals say that Aung San Suu Kyi is being given due process by an independent court led by a judge that her administration appointed. This trial was closed to the media, and defence lawyers were banned from communicating with the media and the public. 

The country of Myanmar has been in disorder since February when the military overthrew the democratic government and Aung San Suu Kyi. Nationwide protests followed against the military coup which saw a violent crackdown. More than 1,300 people were killed and over 11,000 people were arrested.

The international community has called for an end to the violence and what they see as an attack on democracy but has not done more to quell the violence or send assistance to protestors. Some Southeast Asian nations have historically been under military rule, so this situation is dire for the entire region. 

A new government under the name of the National Unity Government has been working behind the scenes. According to the New York Times, while it has not been recognized by foreign nations, some of its representatives have met with senior U.S. officials like National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

In the aftermath of this case, the political landscape of Myanmar has been reshaped. While Aung San Suu Kyi still has followers in Myanmar, a lot of people want change. Most of the top officials in Aung San Suu Kyi’s government were in their 70s or 80s, a majority of the ministers were from the Bamar ethnic majority and almost all belonged to her party, the National League of Democracy. She is the only woman with a position in the cabinet. 

The National Unity Government looks toward a more diverse leadership by appointing members of ethnic minorities to top positions. A third of its ministers come from other groups than the Bamar majority and other parties than the National League of Democracy. Nine out of 37 cabinet ministers are women. The government has also said that Rohingya Muslims should be given equal rights. Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to criticize the army’s ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in 2017 despite international attention and being stripped of a string of awards

“Our organization will not be led by a single person,” Min Ko Naing, of the activist group 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, said at a news conference last month to unveil the consultative council. “It will be more like a collective leadership.” 

Worldwide, people have called for the military junta to step down and to end the violent crackdown on non-violent protestors and their fight for democracy. The Myanmar junta has blamed ‘foreign intervention’ for being excluded from things like the ASEAN summit according to Reuters. The Times of India reports the junta has denied the request of India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi. 

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