Today’s guilty verdict against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi by a court in Myanmar has been described by Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan as “shameful”. “Her arrest and trial and now this guilty verdict are nothing more than legal and political theatre,” added Irene Khan.
On 11 August a court in Yangon’s Insein prison found Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader guilty of violating the conditions of her house arrest, after an uninvited man spent two nights there in early May. Under Section 22 of Myanmar’s State Protection Act of 1975, the court sentenced Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to three years imprisonment, commuted to 18 months under house arrest.
This was less than the maximum five years’ imprisonment allowed by law.
“The Myanmar authorities will hope that a sentence that is shorter than the maximum will be seen by the international community as an act of leniency. But it is not, and must not be seen as such, especially by ASEAN or the UN. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained for over 13 of the past 20 years but should never have been arrested in the first place. The only issue here is her immediate and unconditional release”, said Irene Khan.
Amnesty International also noted that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a prisoner of conscience, is one of more than 2,150 political prisoners in Myanmar.
Background Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s sentencing comes in the midst of ongoing human rights violations by the military against ethnic minority civilians. In early June the Myanmar army staged attacks and took Karen civilians for forced labour in Kayin State. This resulted in over 3,500 refugees fleeing to Thailand.