July 28, 2023

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi moved from prison: party official

Myanmar Now

The ousted civilian leader has been in junta custody since her government was ousted in a military coup on February 1, 2021

AFPJuly 28, 2023

Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was ousted in a 2021 military coup, has been moved from prison to a government building, an official from her party said Friday.

Suu Kyi has only been seen once since she was held after the February 1, 2021 putsch – in grainy state media photos from a bare courtroom in the military-built capital Naypyitaw.

The coup plunged the Southeast Asian nation into a conflict that has displaced more than one million people, according to the United Nations.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved to a high-level venue compound on Monday night,” an official from the National League for Democracy told AFP Friday on condition of anonymity.

The party official also confirmed Suu Kyi had met the country’s lower house speaker Ti Khun Myat and was likely to meet Deng Xijuan, China’s special envoy for Asian Affairs, who is visiting the country.

A source from another political party said Suu Kyi had been moved to a VIP compound in Naypyitaw.

In July, Thailand’s foreign minister said he had met with Suu Kyi, the first-known meeting with a foreign envoy since she was detained.

A junta spokesman told AFP the meeting had lasted more than one hour but did not give details on what was discussed.

There have been concerns about the 78-year-old Nobel laureate’s health since her detention, including during her trial in a junta court that required her to attend almost daily hearings.

Suu Kyi has been sentenced to 33 years in jail for a clutch of charges, including corruption, possession of illegal walkie talkies and flouting coronavirus restrictions.

Rights groups slammed her trial as a sham designed to remove the popular leader from politics.

In June 2022, after more than a year under house arrest in Naypyitaw, Suu Kyi was moved to a prison compound in another part of the capital.

There she was no longer permitted her domestic staff of around ten people and assigned military-chosen helpers, sources told AFP at the time.

Confinement in the isolated capital is a far cry from the years Suu Kyi spent under house arrest during a previous junta, where she became a world-famous democracy figurehead.

During that period, she lived at her family’s colonial-era lakeside mansion in commercial hub Yangon and regularly gave speeches to crowds on the other side of her garden wall.

Tarnished image 

Suu Kyi remains hugely popular in Myanmar, even after her international image was tainted by her power-sharing deal with the generals and failure to speak up for the persecuted Rohingya minority.

But many fighting for democracy have jettisoned her core principle of non-violence and taken up arms to try and permanently root out military dominance of the country’s politics and economy.

The military has cited alleged widespread voter fraud during elections in November 2020 as a reason for its coup, which sparked huge protests and a bloody crackdown.

Those polls were won resoundingly by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, with international observers at the time saying they were largely free and fair.

After the coup, many senior NLD members were jailed or sent into hiding.

In March, Myanmar’s junta-stacked election commission announced the NLD would be dissolved for failing to re-register under a new military-drafted electoral law.

The junta has yet to announce a date for fresh polls it had said it will hold.

More than 3,800 people have been killed since the coup, according to a local monitoring group.

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