Published: 06th December 2021
What the FAQ: Why has Aung San Suu Kyi been sentenced to prison and what's happening in Myanmar?
One of the ways that people are expressing dissent in Myanmar is by banging pots and pans at their homes at night. It has become the symbol of resistance, non-compliance in the country
A military coup d'état, frequent internet shutdowns, death of thousands of young protestors and jailing of political leaders and civilians — this has been Myanmar's disturbing reality since February this year, after Myanmar's military ousted and detained its democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. On December 6, 2021, a Myanmar court found Suu Kyi guilty on multiple charges — which include charges of inciting public unrest and breaching COVID-19 protocols. Suu Kyi has been sentenced to four years in prison, according to her lawyer, the first in a series of verdicts that could keep the 76-year-old Nobel laureate detained for the rest of her life, The Washington Post reported.
For those living under a rock, who is Aung San Suu Kyi?
Suu Kyi became the face of Myanmar's struggle for democracy in the 1990s. She spent nearly 15 years in detention between 1989 and 2010, after organising rallies calling for democratic reform and free elections. Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her fight against the country's military dictatorship that ruled Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. In 2015, Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy (NLD) to victory in Myanmar's first openly contested election in 25 years. However, the current situation in Myanmar has clearly proved that the military is not interested in democracy.
What charges is Suu Kyi facing?
Suu Kyi has been accused of violating import restrictions after walkie-talkies and other foreign equipment were found in her villa compound, The New York Times reported. She has also been charged with contravening a natural disaster management law by interacting with a crowd during the Coronavirus pandemic. Her trials have been held in closed-door hearings in the country's capital, Naypyidaw.
Why are the people of Myanmar protesting?
The people of Myanmar have been resisting strongly against the military coup d'état and many of those who are protesting have been victims of military violence. Just a day before the verdict, on December 5, a military truck rammed into demonstrators in Yangon before soldiers opened fire on the small crowd. At least five were killed, according to local media.
One of the ways that people are expressing dissent in Myanmar is by banging pots and pans at their homes at night. It has become the symbol of resistance, non-compliance in the country. Soon after the violence on December 5, the protesters continued to demonstrate in the streets.
Who sits on the throne now?
Myanmar's military ruler Min Aung Hlaing has taken up the role of prime minister since August. Aung Hlaing began his tenure as military chief as Myanmar transitioned to democracy in 2011, after decades of military rule. It was under him that in 2016 and 2017, the military intensified its campaign against the Rohingya Muslims, BBC reported.
The military chief was condemned internationally for the alleged genocide and, in August 2018, the UN Human Rights Council said, "Myanmar's top military generals, including Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, must be investigated and prosecuted for genocide in the north of Rakhine State, as well as for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States."