A military-run court in Myanmar has sentenced former leader Aung Suu Kyi to six years in prison for corruption. Kyi, 77, is a prominent figure in Myanmar and is staunchly opposed to the military rule of the country. She won a Nobel Peace Prize and is considered one of the most notable opposition figures in the country.
The military has accused her of profound corruption, including 18 offenses ranging from graft to election violations. If she were convicted and given the maximum sentence for all 18 charges, she’d face 190 years behind bars. Suu Kyi has denounced the accusations as “absurd” and denies any wrongdoing.
The ruling military government accused Suu Kyi of misusing funds from the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation. Suu Kyi founded the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation to focus on educating the citizens of Myanmar and promoting healthy lifestyles. The military alleges that Suu Kyi mismanaged funds from the foundation and used them to build herself a house and leased government property at a discounted price.
Suu Kyi is now being held in solitary confinement in a prison in the country’s capital, Naypyitaw. She already faces eleven years behind bars for crimes she’s been convicted of in other military-led trials.
The situation in Myanmar has been troubling since last year when the military violently overthrew the democratically-elected government led by Suu Kyi. They implemented a brutal crackdown on public dissent. The junta has publicly jailed, tortured, and murdered dissidents in a widespread campaign the UN has decried as a crime against humanity.
The world’s governments have roundly decried the situation and levied harsh sanctions against Myanmar’s military. Government leaders around the world have called the charges against Suu Kyi a farce, arguing that these are politically-motivated charges intended to discredit the regime and remove a popular leader from power.
Myanmar’s military government says Suu Kyi is being given a fair trial and decries the international backlash as unnecessary foreign intervention. That characterization is far from the reality of the situation, however. “It’s a massive assault against her rights, and part of the campaign to bury her and the [National League for Democracy] forever,” says Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director, Phil Robertson.
Notably, Myanmar’s military ruled the country for decades before Suu Kyi’s party won democratic elections and brought forth a brief period of reforms. Her ouster from office in February 2021 returned the country to the military rule it has known since the end of British colonial rule nearly 70 years ago.