Special dish in Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi politically sidelined

Status: 06.12.2021 10:58 a.m.

Myanmar’s military junta sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in prison, with further sentences to follow. Politically, she is off the stage – but that is likely to fuel the resistance of the democracy movement.

By Holger Senzel, ARD Studio Singapore

The verdict was announced behind closed doors – no spectators, no journalists. A spokesman for the military junta announced the sentence without further explanation: two years imprisonment for sedition; two years imprisonment for “disaster management” – that concerns the corona rules in Myanmar. So Aung San Suu Kyi has been imprisoned for four years – and today’s judgments are just the beginning. If the former de facto head of government is found guilty on all counts, she faces 120 years imprisonment in the end.

Holger Senzel
ARD-Studio Singapore

Violation of the Telecommunications Act – this was the first charge immediately after the military coup because her bodyguards had allegedly used unregistered radios. And because that apparently sounded too ridiculous, incitement, corruption and, lastly, electoral fraud quickly followed.

“To be sidelined as a politician”

It has nothing to do with the rule of law, says Dr. Sasa of the Government of National Unity – a group of former elected politicians who are now underground against the military junta:

Aung San Suu Kyi had led the National League for Democracy to an absolute majority in the 2020 elections – and humiliated the Army Party. Chief of Staff Min Aung Laing resented this and therefore created new facts with weapons. Aung San Suu Kyi should be sidelined as a politician through the trials.

Venerated like a saint

Because Aung San Suu Kyi is still venerated like a saint in Myanmar. The Burmese reverently call her “Mother Suu” – the woman who led the country to democracy. Again and again demonstrators take their photos with them and chant to demand their release.

But the question is what role the 76-year-old still plays in the political deliberations of the democracy movement. Especially among the younger generation there is certainly criticism of the role of “Mother Suu” in the persecution of the Rohingya.

Ko Chit Chit, member of the NLD presidium, does not see this as the most important question: “It is not decisive which political role Aung San Suu Kyi will play in the future, but we cannot and do not want to remove it from our hearts,” he said. “She is firmly in the heart of the people, and that is much more important than giving her a role.”

The support for Aung San Suu Kyi is unbroken: Even after the military coup, thousands demonstrated for their release (archive picture from February 2021).

Photo: LYNN BO BO / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

Thousands of dead were the military coup

After the verdict, the people in Yangon rattled pots and pan lids again – as a sign of protest. The day before, an army jeep had raced into a demonstration and killed five people; a video of it is circulating on Twitter.

The army has killed more than 1,000 people since the coup on February 1 – shot at demonstrations and beaten to death in custody. But it has not broken the anger and indignation of the people, the resistance has been thrown more violently.

Stop the revolution by taking its lead – so it won’t work. On the contrary, the condemnation of Aung San Suu Kyi is likely to further fuel the resistance.


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