Myanmar’s ailing leader Aung San Suu Kyi faces a new legal humiliation, after her third disenchantment sentencing has been reduced from two years to 15 months in prison, largely a token gesture to placate her Western critics.
Ms. Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest by then-ruling generals under the regime of former general Ne Win, and has spoken previously of being “mistreated” by Myanmar’s dictatorship.
Thousands of people from her country have rallied in support of Ms. Suu Kyi, whose advisory body in Myanmar is constantly berated by the generals.
But, on Monday, Ms. Suu Kyi appeared to tread cautiously after failing to revoke the prison sentence following a re-hearing.
At the re-hearing, the judges in court accepted her lawyers’ argument that the conviction was an “innocent” mistake, but they still ruled that she must serve her time behind bars. The new 15-month sentence can be served only in an undisclosed jail.
Ms. Suu Kyi, 75, who first emerged as a new figure in Myanmar in 1988, is facing renewed pressure from US and EU officials who say she must crack down on ethnic rebel groups that are armed by the military and have caused the civilian regime to lose international credibility.
Now that Myanmar’s first multiparty election is on the horizon, local analysts say she may receive stronger protection from the generals to ensure she can win in the coming polls. She has been charged by the military-dominated Justice Ministry for using her house to harbor an detained Rohingya Muslim.
More than 700,000 refugees crossed into Bangladesh to escape a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar army and a gang of vigilante Buddhists. But the truth is far more complicated and both sides blame each other for a wave of violence that has killed scores of people.