Earlier this week, a Myanmar judge postponed the announcement of a highly anticipated verdict against the country’s ousted civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is facing a series of rulings that could see her imprisoned for the rest of her life. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was deposed by the military in 2011.
The 76-year-old man, who was seized in a military coup in February, faces 11 accusations and a maximum sentence of 102 years in jail if found guilty. Her trials have taken place in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital, behind closed doors, and she has not been allowed to testify. Her five attorneys have been forbidden from communicating to the media by the military junta, which claims that their communications might “destabilise the nation.”
However, according to a source acquainted with the proceedings, the court was scheduled to issue its first decision on inciting public commotion on Tuesday, but the judge instead decided to postpone the case until next month. It was not immediately obvious why the court had ordered the wait.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is a flawed hero for a difficult country, and she deserves to be recognised as such.
Her admirers in Myanmar see her as a demigod-like figure, describing her as a protector of the country’s democracy, for which she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. The military’s actions against the Rohingya have harmed her worldwide image, although she has not been charged with any crime.
The decision on the accusation of inciting public disorder was due to be handed out on Tuesday, one year after Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi led her party to a landslide election win, trouncing the military-backed opposition party in the process.
A guilty judgement would almost certainly re-ignite a protest movement that has prompted thousands of people to pick up weapons against the army since the generals took control of the government in February. In their statements, the United Nations and other nations have branded the proceedings as political in nature.
A large number of people have congregated in the streets, physicians and nurses have taken time off work in protest, and many have refused to pay taxes as part of a campaign known as the Civil Disobedience Movement in the months after the coup.
Although the movement is under fear of arrest, there is still a strong public backing for it. Unprecedented numbers of troops are defecting, joining up with armed protestors and insurgent groups to wage hit-and-run operations against the government. A human rights group in Thailand, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), reports that the junta has reacted by clamping down, killing 1,297 individuals and arresting more than 10,500 others since taking power in 2011.
It was announced last week that the National Unity Government, which is comprised of ousted civilian officials, had gathered $6.3 million from citizens who purchased “bonds” to help finance their revolution. Among many of her admirers, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was seen as the sole person capable of guiding Myanmar toward complete democratic development. Since 1962, the military has been in control of the nation for more than half a century. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was obliged to share power with the army after she was elected president in 2015. The army selected 25 percent of the members of Parliament after she was elected president in 2015.
Since her detention on February 1, she has not been seen in public and has not been permitted to communicate with anybody other than her attorneys. Military forces seized her and her colleagues from the National League of Democracy Party only hours before they were to be sworn in as members of parliament, accusing them of voting fraud. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has categorically refuted the allegations.
Human rights advocates have decried the use of the allegation of incitement, claiming that it is intended to frighten anyone who oppose the military. A maximum term of three years is imposed on anybody who “publishes or distributes any statement, rumour, or report” with the “purpose to induce, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm” to the public at large, per the statute.
As the case against Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has progressed, prosecutors have continued to file new allegations against her. The decision handed down on Tuesday is the first in a series of decisions that are scheduled to be handed down in the coming months.