NLD chief Suu Kyi transferred to ‘state-owned residence’ in Myanmar capital

A party official suggests the junta was responding to pressure to end the political stalemate.
By RFA Burmese
NLD chief Suu Kyi transferred to ‘state-owned residence’ in Myanmar capital Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attends a welcoming ceremony for China's President Xi Jinping in Naypyidaw, Jan. 17, 2020.

Myanmar’s junta has relocated Aung San Suu Kyi, the jailed head of the deposed National League for Democracy, from a prison in the capital Naypyidaw to “a more comfortable state-owned residence,” a party official and a source with ties to the prison said Friday.

“It has been confirmed that Aung San Suu Kyi has been placed in a house in a residential area of Naypyidaw," an NLD official who declined to be named due to security concerns told RFA Burmese.

A source with connections to Naypyidaw Prison, where Suu Kyi had been held since the military seized power in a Feb. 1, 2021 coup d’etat, also confirmed that the former State Counselor had been “relocated,” speaking to RFA on condition of anonymity.

Both sources could only confirm that the move had taken place “recently,” but were unable to confirm the exact date or location.

Media reports said Suu Kyi had been transferred to a residence for deputy ministers in the capital on July 24.

Attempts by RFA to contact junta Deputy Information Minister Major Gen. Zaw Min Tun for comment went unanswered Friday.

Junta courts found the 78-year-old Suu Kyi guilty of corruption charges and in violation of election and state secrets laws in December 2022. She faces a total of 33 years in jail for 19 cases, and had been held in solitary confinement in Naypyidaw. Suu Kyi’s supporters say the charges were politically motivated.

A second NLD official suggested to RFA on Friday that the transfer may have been made in response to increased domestic and international pressure on the junta to end Myanmar’s political stalemate.

“The junta has let the world know through this transfer that it is also facing difficulties in resolving the turmoil in Myanmar,” the official said.

The junta has been embroiled in a protracted conflict with Myanmar’s increasingly formidable armed resistance groups and ethnic armed organizations since the military detained Suu Kyi and other top leaders of the NLD during the coup.

It’s also possible that the move was made to make it easier for international diplomats to visit her, according to Min Lwin Oo, a Burmese human rights lawyer who lives in Norway.

Next steps scrutinized

International media reports said Friday that Suu Kyi could be permitted to meet with Deng Xijun, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s special representative for Asian affairs, who is currently in Naypyidaw. As part of Deng’s third visit to Myanmar since the coup, he has met with top military generals, including junta chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.

“It’s most important that Aung San Suu Kyi agrees to meet only the people she wishes to,” NUG spokesman Kyaw Zaw said. “She must have the right to deny meeting with anyone she doesn’t want to see. That’s why it is crucial to ‘unconditionally’ release not just her but all political prisoners.”

The junta has announced three consecutive six-month extensions of emergency rule in Myanmar since the military seized power in a Feb. 1, 2021, coup d’etat, citing ongoing instability in the country. The current period is set to expire on July 31, and observers are closely watching for signs of the regime’s next move.

The move is just a “political charade that does nothing to change the fact that she has been imprisoned for 33 years on bogus, politically motivated convictions in military controlled kangaroo courts,” said Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director.

It’s also a continuation of an approach that started earlier this month when acting Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai met with her in prison just before an ASEAN ministers meeting – it’s designed to make the junta look “somehow reasonable rather than inherently rights abusing,” he said.

But the approach is unlikely to work, said Hla Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese political analyst in China. In the years before the coup, she tried to work with the military for the sake of the people’s security, he said.

“I think she seems to have finally realized that the military cannot be persuaded by any means,” he said. “That’s why she chose prison over reconciliation with the military.”

The NLD has said it will hold a special meeting of its central committee on Saturday to discuss the latest developments.

Last month, a source with knowledge of the situation in Naypyidaw Prison told RFA that three military officers visited Suu Kyi at the facility on May 27 and June 4 to enlist her help in peace negotiations with the armed resistance, only to be rebuffed by the former state counselor.

As an opposition leader, Suu Kyi had been the face of Myanmar’s democracy movement and lived under house arrest imposed by previous military rulers for 15 of 21 years between 1989 and 2010.

Translated by Myo Min Aung. Edited by Joshua Lipes and Matthew Reed.


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