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Myanmar Court Sentences Suu Kyi on 'Walkie-Talkies,' COVID-19 Violations

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech to the nation over Rakhine and Rohingya situation, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar Sep. 19, 2017.
Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech to the nation over Rakhine and Rohingya situation, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar Sep. 19, 2017.

Myanmar’s ousted de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for illegally importing and possessing portable two-way radios and violating coronavirus rules.

A source with connections to a court in the capital Naypyitaw told news outlets that Suu Kyi was sentenced to two years in prison for violating Myanmar’s Import-Export Law for importing the two-way radios, commonly known as walkie-talkies, and another two year sentence for violating the country’s NaturalDisaster Management law for breaching the coronavirus rules.

Monday’s sentences come more than a month after Suu Kyi was convicted for inciting public unrest and a separate charge of violating the Natural Disaster Management Law for breaking COVID-19 restrictions while campaigning during last year’s parliamentary elections. She was initially sentenced to four years in prison, but junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing cut it in half.

The 76-year-old Suu Kyi is facing more than 100 years in prison if convicted of the numerous charges leveled against her by the military junta since she and her civilian government were ousted on February 1, 2021. She is also charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act, inciting public unrest, misusing land for her charitable foundation, and accepting illegal payments of $600,000 in cash plus 11 kilograms of gold.

The UN called for Suu Kyi’s immediate release as well as others who have been arrested by the miltary government.

“Our immediate thought is to, of course, call yet again for the immediate release to all those who have been detained arbitrarily, including Aung San Suu Kyi and many others, whether known political figures or people who have been detained since the coup in February last year, who have been detained arbitrarily,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Monday. “All political prisoners must be released. And clearly this is not a step in the right direction.”

Her supporters say the charges are intended to prevent her from ever taking part in politics again.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won the November 2020 general elections in a landslide over the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party. The junta cited widespread electoral fraud in the elections as its reason for toppling the civilian government and invalidating the results. The civilian electoral commission denied the allegations before it was disbanded.

Suu Kyi, who led the ousted government as state counsellor, President Win Myint and other high-ranking officials have been jailed since the coup.

Violent clashes between the military and citizens who have staged mass demonstrations against the junta have left nearly 1,400 citizens dead, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a nonprofit monitoring group. Deadly clashes have also broken out between the military and several armed ethnic groups across the country.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.

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