By an announcement on Myanmar’s state broadcaster MRTV, Aung San Suu Kyi’s jail term was lowered to two years on Monday after a special court found her guilty in her first trial after her overthrow in a February coup and sentenced her to four years in prison.
According to a statement attributed to the chairman of the State Administration Council, Suu Kyi will serve her sentence at her current location, avoiding time in prison.
She was convicted of encouraging dissent against the military, a breach of the country’s colonial-era penal code Section 505(B). She was also found in violation of the Natural Disaster Management Law for breaking Covid rules while campaigning during the junta’s canceled national elections in 2020.
Ex-president Win Myint, who was charged with the same offenses, had his sentence reduced from four to two years in prison, and he will be permitted to remain in his current residence.
Suu Kyi has been arrested by the military administration since it took control of the government, sparking nationwide protests that have wreaked havoc on the economy and reignited civil war.
Before her release in 2010, the civilian leader was held under house arrest for over 15 years while the country moved toward democratic reforms. She’s been imprisoned at an undisclosed location in Naypyidaw since shortly after the coup, well away from her disgruntled followers, and she hasn’t been seen publicly outside of court appearances.
“Aung San Suu Kyi’s imprisonment is yet another abhorrent attempt by Myanmar’s military rulers to stifle opposition and suppress freedom and democracy,” said British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in a statement. “The arbitrary imprisonment of elected politicians only risks future unrest,” she said.
The army has used violence to quash protests, killing over 1,300 protesters and making over 10,000 arrests, drawing censure from Myanmar’s Southeast Asian neighbors. The US embassy in Yangon stated on Sunday it was “horrified” by reports that security personnel opened fire on peaceful protestors in Yangon that morning, running them over and killing them.
When asked about the verdict, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that Beijing hopes that parties and factions in Myanmar will work “within the constitutional and legal framework, bridge their differences, and maintain the democratic transition in line with the country’s hard-won interests.”
The prosecutions are part of a military effort to tarnish Suu Kyi, 76, after her party won more than 80% of the seats in a year’s election. Even though international monitors claimed the election was mainly free and fair, the military pronounced it contaminated by rampant fraud.
At least 12 criminal accusations have been filed against her by the dictatorship of military leader Min Aung Hlaing, including abuse of power to win elections, disclosing state secrets, and owning unregistered walkie-talkies. Suu Kyi will have to wait to see if she would be able to appeal the judgment.
In a statement, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns Ming Yu Hah said, “The draconian penalties handed down to Aung San Suu Kyi on these spurious charges are the latest illustration of the military’s resolve to destroy all opposition and smother freedoms in Myanmar.”