A Myanmar court has found ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of charges including inciting public unrest and sentenced her to four years in prison, according to her lawyer, the first in a series of verdicts that could keep the 76-year-old Nobel laureate detained for the rest of her life.
The closed-door trial in Naypyidaw, the capital, highlights the punitive treatment that the ruling junta is imposing on Suu Kyi, whom the military previously held under house arrest for almost two decades. After her release in 2010, she led her party to successive victories in quasi-democratic elections in 2015 and 2020, before the military seized power in February, again detaining Suu Kyi.
This time, the military seems intent on eliminating Suu Kyi as a political force. Since the coup, she has been held incommunicado in an undisclosed location. The military has steadily piled on a dozen criminal charges against her, ranging from campaigning during the pandemic to corruption and sedition; she cumulatively faces more than a century in jail.
Rulings on two of those charges, inciting public unrest against the military and breaching covid-19 rules, were handed down on Monday in a closed hearing. Her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, said she received a sentence of two years for each charge and was sentenced to four years in total. Lawyers have been operating under a gag order, unable to disclose details of the trial.
The verdict was due to be handed down last week, but was deferred until Monday. At that time, she was hit with a new charge of corruption.
Myanmar has spiraled deeper into chaos as the trial has unfolded, with armed conflict escalating in parts of the country and the military targeting anti-coup protesters. On Sunday, a military truck rammed into demonstrators in Yangon, before soldiers opened fire on the small crowd. At least five were killed, according to local media.
For decades, Suu Kyi advocated nonviolent resistance as she led the struggle for democracy and an end to the military’s dominance of the Southeast Asian country — a cause that won her a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and widespread acclaim in the West.
But facing a brutal crackdown by the armed forces in the wake of the coup this year, Myanmar’s people are increasingly adopting a more confrontational approach. A shadow government comprising Suu Kyi allies declared war on the military in September.