EFEBangkok Desk

Myanmar's ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced on Monday to four years in prison in the first verdicts of a series of charges she has been facing since February's military coup.

In a Naypyidaw court, 76-year-old Suu Kyi was sentenced to two years in jail for incitement and two years for violating Covid-19 protocols under the Disaster Management Law, a source close to the case told Efe.

Deposed president Win Myint was also given four years under the same charges, and former Naypyidaw mayor Myo Aung was sentenced to two years for incitement, said the source, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.

Around a dozen charges have been filed by the military junta against the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, including allegations of corruption, unlawful possession of walkie-talkies and violating the Official Secrets Act, all punishable by various lengths of time in jail.

She denies all charges, but little is known about the closed-door proceedings. In October, her lawyers were issued with gag orders forbidding them from releasing information.

It is not yet known if the three have been sent to prison, and if so, where.

"The harsh sentences handed down to Aung San Suu Kyi on these bogus charges are the latest example of the military's determination to eliminate all opposition and suffocate freedoms in Myanmar," Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns Ming Yu Hah said in a statement after the verdicts.

"There are many detainees without the profile of Aung San Suu Kyi who currently face the terrifying prospect of years behind bars simply for peacefully exercising their human rights. They must not be forgotten and left to their fate."

Malaysia member of parliament and chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Charles Santiago, said the rulings were a "travesty of justice."

"No-one is fooled by today's sentencing. Since the day of the coup, it's been clear that the charges against Aung San Suu Kyi, and the dozens of other detained MPs, have been nothing more than an excuse by the junta to justify their illegal power grab," he said, calling for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to "hold the line against this illegal takeover."

The United Nations and numerous governments such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the European Union have called for the release of Suu Kyi and others detained by the military junta led by General Min Aung Hlaing.

The Feb. 1 coup plunged Myanmar into a deep political, social and economic crisis and spurred the formation of new civilian militias to fight the military, exacerbating the decades-long internal conflict.

The junta justifies the coup by alleging electoral fraud during the general election of November 2020, the result of which it has since annulled, but in which Suu Kyi's party won by a landslide with the endorsement of international observers.

At least 1,303 people have died since the coup as a result of the crackdown by security forces, according to the daily reports of the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners, with more than 10,000 arrests. EFE

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