In court with toothache, the deposed leader faces up to 14 years in prison
Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi witnessed the start of her trial today with a toothache. After a series of preliminary hearings, Southeast Asia’s best-known pro-democracy icon appeared a little sick but healthy, Reuters reported. But the former councilor of state is increasingly isolated, confined to house arrest together with the highest offices of the previous government which, while guaranteeing the military 25% of the seats, also gave room for maneuver to the first experiment of civil government. A semi-democratic parable already proven by the accusations of genocide against the Muslim minority and definitively shelved by the coup d’etat four months ago by an institution – the army – that the historian Thant Myint U defines as “anachronistic”. Thus The Lady, as Aung San Suu Kyi is called, finds herself having to defend herself against accusations defined by most as surreal and spurious, including the now famous possession of walkie talkies, and the violation of anti-Covid restrictions during the electoral campaign of the 2020 – ended with the overwhelming victory of his National League for Democracy. If for these accusations she already risks a maximum sentence of 14 years and therefore the end of her political career, tomorrow Aung San Suu Kyi will have to face even more serious accusations, such as the violation of state secrets and corruption. The latter is almost an explicit reference to the flagship of the civil government, known for having carried out a coherent and intense campaign against patronage and bribes. The allegations were called “absurd” by the head of the legal team, Khin Maung Zaw. The same lawyer would also have described the Lady as attentive and interested in her trial.
However, Aung San Suu Kyi is not the only one who has seen her personal freedom limited. More than 6,000 people have been arrested since the February 1 coup, most of them still under arrest in Burmese prisons known for their very low standards. There are activists, but also ordinary citizens, famous actors and actresses. Today the American journalist Nathan Maung was released, but he still remains inside the infamous prison of Insein Danny Fenster, editor-in-chief of the local magazine Frontier, with several collaborations with international newspapers that may have attracted the attention of the military. According to sources inside La Stampa, he is treated better than the other prisoners, but his release is not imminent.
Meanwhile, outside the courtrooms, the impact of four months of protests and repression capable of paralyzing the state machine is being felt on the economy, already tested by Covid. In cities like Yangon, the commercial capital, explosions have become the norm, often the result of the primordial organization of a civilian army, partly merged into ethnic armies as well.
“We are not interested in convictions: if no one from outside helps us, we should do it ourselves,” a young Burmese man told La Stampa who asked not to be named for his commitment to protests against the military regime. From the G7 in Cornwall, however, the condemnation comes: “We ask the military to end the emergency, restore the power of the democratically elected government, release all those who are unjustly detained and respect human rights and the rule of law”, reads a press release.