World

UN deplores conviction and sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi

December 06, 2021
Aung San Suu Kyi appears at the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Dec. 10, 2019. — courtesy ICJ/Frank van Beek
Aung San Suu Kyi appears at the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Dec. 10, 2019. — courtesy ICJ/Frank van Beek

GENEVA — The UN’s top human rights official on Monday condemned the imprisonment of Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi by a military-controlled court, and called for her release. She also faces additional charges of corruption and electoral fraud.

The development follows media reports that a military vehicle slammed into demonstrators in the city of Yangon over the weekend, leaving an unknown number injured and at least five dead.

Political motives

In a statement on Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet maintained that Suu Kyi’s guilty verdict was the result of a “sham trial”.

“The conviction of the State Counselor following a sham trial in secretive proceedings before a military-controlled court is nothing but politically-motivated,” she said.

“It is not only about arbitrary denial of her freedom — it closes yet another door to political dialogue,” the UN rights chief said in a statement.

Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s former leader, had been held at an unknown location since February; she was tried in a closed court with no access for observers.

The verdict had been “politically-motivated,” said Bachelet, who warned that the State Counselor’s detention had closed “yet another door to political dialogue”.

Myanmar’s military took power in a coup on Feb. 1, after declaring the results of the November 2020 elections invalid.

More than 10,000 political prisoners are believed to have been detained by the junta, and at least 175 have reportedly died in custody, according to the UN human rights office.

Immediate release plea

In her statement, the High Commissioner called for the immediate release of all those who have been held arbitrarily.

Bachelet also strongly condemned the “vicious, utterly reprehensible” attack reported yesterday in Yangon, the country’s commercial capital, where unconfirmed video footage showed a security forces’ truck running into unarmed protesters and then firing upon the group using live ammunition.

In addition to those feared killed and injured, 15 others have been detained, according to reports.

The UN’s top aid representative in Myanmar, Ramanathan Balakrishnan joined Bachelet in speaking out against the violence and said that those responsible for excessive and disproportionate use of force against unarmed civilians must be held accountable.

“Initial reports indicate that a number of people were killed in the incident, while a number of others were injured,” he said, insisting that freedom of expression “is a fundamental human right and today’s action by security forces is completely unacceptable...I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms and pass on my deepest condolences to the families of all those who were killed or injured.”

Armed clashes, violence and insecurity in the country has risen significantly since the coup, displacing tens of thousands of civilians, according to United Nations estimates.

‘Hostages, not criminals’

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, described the sentencing as the “theater of the absurd”, saying the military-directed process underscored the complete lack of rule of law in the country.

“Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint are hostages, not criminals,” the independent expert said. “This proceeding should not be confused with an actual trial - it is theatre of the absurd and a gross violation of human rights.

“Aung San Suu Kyi, and thousands of others, are being arbitrarily detained in a system of injustice, guilty of only exercising their fundamental rights.”

Andrews said that the sentencing “demonstrates why the international community must take stronger action to support the people of Myanmar by denying the junta the revenue and weapons that they need to continue their illegitimate grip on the people of Myanmar.

“I call upon Member States to significantly increase pressure on the junta as a result of this outrageous action.”

The junta’s arrest and sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi and thousands of others highlights the relentless assault on the people of Myanmar’s right to exercise their civil and political rights, the independent expert added. — UN News


December 06, 2021
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