Recent prison sentences handed down against former President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi — and a swift halving of those sentences by the junta chief — have further undermined confidence in Myanmar’s justice system under military rule.
Former President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi were each sentenced to four years’ imprisonment at a hearing on December 6 by a special junta court in the capital Naypyidaw, before having those sentences reduced to two years under house arrest by junta supremo Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
The court in Zabuthiri Township ordered two years each for the cases charged under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code, an incitement provision, and an additional two years for the two deposed leaders under Section 50 of the Natural Disaster Management Law.
“The international community will blame the military council for doing what it wants. To be sure, the legislature, judiciary and administration have collapsed since the military coup,” said an official from the All Burma Federation of Student Unions.
Not even lengthy prison sentences for the president and state counsellor would weaken the “Spring Revolution,” he said.
“The conviction of the State Counsellor following a sham trial in secretive proceedings before a military-controlled court is nothing but politically-motivated,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement. “It is not only about arbitrary denial of her freedom — it closes yet another door to political dialogue.”
The Myanmar military council is using the rule of law as a pretext for misconduct, said Ko Nyi Nyi Lwin, a member of the 2007 Saffron Monk Network.
“I think this is the law that the military council is using as needed. It is the opposite of the saying that ‘no one is above the law.’ It is wrong to try to punish innocent people in an unjust and illegal way,” he added.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Win Myint face additional charges, including corruption charges that were filed as recently as November 30. The state counsellor has been hit with a total of 11 charges, with the cumulative maximum sentences adding up to more than 100 years in prison.