Home » Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest as Myanmar’s coup junta faces its biggest threat

Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest as Myanmar’s coup junta faces its biggest threat

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Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest as Myanmar’s coup junta faces its biggest threat

BEIJING – Transferred from prison to a “residence under surveillance”. The former Burmese leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi benefits from a pinch of humanity on the part of the military junta that dragged the Myanmar in a civil war. A decision that comes as the generals find themselves under extreme pressure, in their weakest position since they took power in a 2021 coup: the army is suffering a series of major defeats against democratic resistance fighters, and is losing control of key cities.

“Relocated due to heat wave”

The spokesman of the junta, the general Zaw Min Tun, stated that the heat wave affecting the country (temperatures of up to 41 degrees) has pushed the authorities to take measures to protect the most vulnerable prisoners. “Not just Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint (the former president, ndr) but other elderly prisoners also received the necessary care due to the heat.” However, it is not yet clear whether the decision concerning the Lady is a temporary measure or whether it is instead a reduction of the sentence. It is also unclear at the moment where exactly Suu Kyi was transferred.

“The transfer from prisons to homes is good, because homes are better than prisons. However, they must be released unconditionally. They must take full responsibility for the health and safety of Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint,” he told All ‘agency Reuters Kyaw Zawspokesperson for the shadow government.

Amnesty for over 3 thousand prisoners

At the same time as the decision on Suu Kyi, the junta also announced an amnesty for 3,300 prisoners, on the occasion of the Burmese New Year. For other prisoners the sentence will be reduced by one sixth, with the exception of those convicted of murder, terrorism and drug trafficking. Mass amnesties during the holidays are not unusual in Myanmar: already in July last year the coup plotters had granted an amnesty for more than 7 thousand prisoners on the occasion of Buddhist Lent.

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The arrest and convictions

Arrested in February 2021 when the army took power in a coup d’état, the Lady – who at the time was the de facto leader of the country, at the head of the party that had the majority in Parliament – has since accumulated sentences up to to 27 years in prison for a series of charges, including bribery, illegal possession of walkie-talkies and failure to comply with Coronavirus restrictions.

Human rights groups have described the trial as a farce and a tool to distance the leader from politics: a figure who remains very popular in the country even though her international reputation has been tarnished by the horrors committed by the army against the minority of Rohingya.

After the coup, she ended up under house arrest, then transferred in June 2022 to solitary confinement in a prison in the capital. Since she was arrested by the military she has been spotted only once in grainy state media photos taken in a courtroom in Naypyidaw and had health problems. Local media reported that during the trial, which lasted several months, Suu Kyi suffered from dizziness, vomiting and at times was unable to eat due to a tooth infection.

Last February, the son Kim Aris She said her mother was being held in isolation and that she was in good spirits “even though her health is not as good as in the past.” News about Suu Kyi is tightly controlled by the military government and even her lawyers cannot speak to officials. average.

Arrests and deaths

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an independent group that monitors casualties and arrests, 20,351 people arrested since the army’s takeover in 2021 are still in prison, most of whom have not received criminal convictions. The same association estimates that more than 4,800 civilians have died since the beginning of the repression.

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The junta under pressure: the fall of Myawaddy

The junta is now facing its biggest threat yet, suffering setbacks and heavy losses in recent months. Last week the army lost control of Myawaddy, a key town on the border with Thailand, an important border commercial hub that serves as Myanmar’s gateway to the rest of South-East Asia, now in the hands of rebels belonging to the Karen ethnic group. Thousands of residents have fled to Thailand, ahead of the coup troops’ counter-offensive.

In recent months, resistance forces have captured dozens of cities and military outposts in areas bordering Bangladesh, China and India. Surrounding the coup plotters. Last October, three ethnic rebel groups launched a joint offensive against the army, conquering some areas on the border with China. Two weeks ago, on April 4, rebel groups launched drones that hit the capital Naypyidaw: they were shot down, thus foiling a rare attack on the heart of power.

Since the 2021 coup, armed ethnic groups and pro-democracy rebels have formed a broad alliance to fight the junta. In February the regime announced it would begin implementing a decades-old conscription law, a sign that the junta’s forces were running out. A series of defeats in Shan and Kachin states in the north and Rakhine state in the west have left the army short of recruits. Thousands of soldiers were killed, wounded, captured or deserted.

Chinese exercises at the borders

Starting today the Chinese will hold air defense and live-fire drills near the border with Myanmar. Concerned about trade disruptions and an influx of refugees, China is trying to act as a mediator in the conflict. After five people were injured in China’s Yunnan province, Beijing called for an immediate ceasefire in January.

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