By Agencies and published by Channel NewsAsia
Yangon – Ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from house arrest to solitary confinement in a prison compound in the military-built capital Naypyidaw, a junta spokesman said today (June 23).
“In accordance with criminal laws … (Aung San Suu Kyi) has been kept in solitary confinement in prison” since Wednesday, Zaw Min Tun said in a statement.
Since her ouster in a coup last year, Aung San Suu Kyi had been under house arrest at an undisclosed location in Naypyidaw, accompanied by several domestic staff and her dog, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.
The Nobel laureate, 77, left those premises only to attend hearings for her trial in a junta court that could see her handed a prison sentence of more than 150 years.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers have been banned from speaking to the media and journalists barred from her trial.
Under a previous junta regime, she spent long spells under house arrest in her family mansion in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city.
She has already been convicted of corruption, incitement against the military, breaching Covid-19 rules and breaking a telecommunications law, with a court sentencing her to 11 years in prison so far. Aung San Suu Kyi denies all charges.
Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing had allowed Aung San Suu Kyi to remain in detention despite her convictions, but on Wednesday, Myanmar’s military rulers without explanation ordered all legal proceedings against her to be moved from a courtroom to a prison, a source familiar with her cases said.
The source, who declined to be identified due to sensitivities over the trial, said hearings would be shifted to a new special court in Naypyidaw’s prison.
“It is declared by the judge that a new building for the court is complete,” the source added.
Three legal officials said that Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers were informed on Tuesday that the building had been completed, and that all her remaining court hearings would be held there starting on Thursday.
The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to release any information about her cases.
One of the officials said that the government intended to put her in solitary confinement after her first conviction last year, but had to wait until the new facilities at the main prison in Naypyidaw were completed.
Australian economist Sean Turnell, who was an adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi, is being held at the same prison where she was sent.
Turnell and Aung San Suu Kyi are being prosecuted in the same case under the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, so both are to appear at the court inside the prison today.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s marathon court proceedings take place behind closed doors with only limited information reported by state media. A gag order has been imposed on her lawyers, whose only access to her is on trial days.
It is not clear how much Aung San Suu Kyi knows of the crisis in her country, which has been in chaos since the coup, with the military struggling to consolidate power and facing increasing resistance from militia groups.
Western countries have called the convictions a sham and demanded her release. The military says she is being given due process by an independent judiciary.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s supporters and rights groups say that the charges against her are politically motivated and are an attempt to discredit her and legitimise the military’s seizure of power while keeping her from returning to politics.
Many senior members of her government and party have also been arrested and tried, and several are co-defendants in some of her cases.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a private organisation that tracks government killings and arrests, a total of 11,174 people are currently in detention for suspected opposition to the ruling military council.
Top: Aung San Suu Kyi is seen at the Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw on Jan. 20, 2020. File photo: AP and published by CNA
Front Page: Then-Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attends the joint news conference of the Japan-Mekong Summit Meeting at the Akasaka Palace State Guest House in Tokyo, Japan on Oct. 9, 2018. Photo: Franck Robichon/Pool via Reuters and published by CNA