Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal dismissed by junta’s high court

The democracy icon’s whereabouts is a mystery.
By RFA Burmese
Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal dismissed by junta’s high court The whereabouts of deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi remain unknown more than a month after a National League for Democracy official told Radio Free Asia that she would be moved from a prison to “a more comfortable state-owned residence.”
Credit: AP file photo

An appeal filed by lawyers for Aung San Suu Kyi has been rejected by the military junta’s Supreme Court – a decision that comes a month after a junta pardon reduced her total prison sentence from 33 years to 27 years.

But the whereabouts of the 78-year-old former de facto leader of Myanmar remains unclear.

A month ago, a National League for Democracy official told Radio Free Asia that she would be moved from Naypyidaw Prison to “a more comfortable state-owned residence” in a residential area in the capital.

And a source with connections to the prison also told RFA in late July that the former State Counselor had been “relocated.” 

But junta officials haven’t commented on her location, and they’ve barred her lawyers from meeting with her since January.

“We don’t know exactly where Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is. She hasn’t been allowed to see her son for over two and a half years,” NLD spokesman Kyaw Zaw said, using an honorific for Suu Kyi.

“In Myanmar, there have been arbitrary arrests and disappearances of individuals, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, without any trace of information,” he said.

Not being allowed to see family members is a violation of the “fundamental principles of human rights,” Kyaw Zaw said as the United Nations and civic groups marked the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on Wednesday.

Using all legal measures

The military detained Suu Kyi and other top leaders of the NLD in a Feb. 1, 2021, coup d’etat. She was kept under house arrest in Naypyidaw for several days before the junta moved her to a secret location.

In June 2022, she was transferred to Naypyidaw Prison, where she was held in solitary confinement. She was found guilty of corruption charges and in violation of election and state secrets laws in December 2022. Her supporters say the charges were politically motivated.

The junta has brought a total of 19 cases against Suu Kyi since the coup. In July, the Supreme Court began hearing an appeal for five of those cases, which include a charge related to walkie talkie devices found at her home and two charges for allegedly breaching the COVID-19 safety regulations during the 2020 election campaign.

As part of a broader amnesty to mark a Buddhist holiday, the junta on Aug. 1 pardoned her in those five cases. That cut her prison sentence by six years. 

But the appeal trial in those cases continued forward, and on Tuesday the Supreme Court rejected the appeal, as well as a separate appeal of convictions in two other cases for Suu Kyi. 

Sources close to Suu Kyi’s lawyers told RFA that her legal team is using all legal measures to defend her in every case, regardless of the recent pardon.

Junta’s biggest political fear

“Aung San Su Kyi is the person most feared politically by the junta that claims to be 500,000 strong,” political analyst Than Soe Naing said.

That’s why she’s mostly being kept in the dark, away from media attention, he said. The junta has granted some meetings, including with the Thai foreign minister in July, but only as a way to improve its public perception, he said.

Three military officers visited her at Naypyidaw Prison on May 27 and June 4 to enlist her help in peace negotiations with the armed resistance, a source with knowledge of the situation at the prison told RFA. She rebuffed their request, the source said.

RFA called junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun on Thursday to ask about where Suu Kyi is currently being held, but he couldn’t be reached.

“She has been sentenced to prison for her charges, and therefore, realistically, she must be in prison,” said Thein Tun Oo, executive director of the Thayninga Institute for Strategic Studies, which is made up of former military officers.

“She could be somewhere, but not under house arrest,” he said. “But no one can say anything for sure as the details have not been announced.”

A Yangon resident told RFA on Thursday that people are always keeping their ears open for any news about Suu Kyi. 

“If they dare to, just let the people see her on state television – or anything about her,” he said. “Everyone wants to hear her news. I pray for [her] good health. Most of all, I pray for her release as soon as possible.”

Translated by Myo Min Aung. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.


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