Nobel Peace Prize winner gets more jail time for election fraud
A Myanmar court sentenced the country’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to an additional three years in prison with hard labor on Friday. The politician was found guilty of electoral fraud during the November 2020 polls, which yielded a landslide win for Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
Last month, Suu Kyi was convicted on four counts of corruption and sentenced to six years in jail, which raised her total prison time to 17 years at the time. The 77-year-old politician still faces assorted additional charges and may end up with a nearly 200-year sentence if convicted on all of them.
The new verdict has been condemned by various rights groups as politically motivated. The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), for instance, said the new sentence “delivered a clear message that the military junta has no interest in upholding democracy, human rights, and the rule of law”in the country.
“In light of the latest development, we reiterate our call for the Myanmar military junta to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners in the country, drop the politically motivated charges against NLD leaders and members, activists, journalists and [electoral] officials, respect the results of the 2020 elections, and reinstate the civilian rule,” the group said in a statement.
Suu Kyi, dubbed a ‘democracy icon’ by the media, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her work to bring democracy to Myanmar. While in power, however, she was no stranger to human rights abuse allegations herself, including over the controversial treatment of the Rohingya minority, which was branded by multiple rights groups as “genocide.”
The politician became the first – and, so far, the only – State Counsellor of Myanmar back in 2016, securing a comfortable re-election in late 2020. She was overthrown in February 2021 by the country’s military, which accused the civilian government of coming into power thanks to massive election fraud.
Suu Kyi and her fellow politicians have strongly denied all the accusations raised by the military. The coup ended a brief period of civilian rule in Myanmar, which was controlled by the military from the early 1960s to 2011.
The coup prompted months-long mass-protests across the country, with Suu Kyi’s supporters engaging in clashes against the military. The violence resulted in over 2,000 deaths, according to various monitoring groups, but the military has insisted the tally was greatly exaggerated.