Benedict Rogers

Burma’s generals aren’t really pardoning Aung San Suu Kyi

Aang San Suu Kyi (Photo: Getty)

The brutal generals ruling Burma – or Myanmar as they officially call it – seem to take us for fools. Today the junta issued a ‘partial pardon’ for the country’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi and reportedly transferred her from prison to ‘a more comfortable state-owned residence’. By doing this, they hope to score a propaganda win, creating the impression of leniency. It is vital though that the international community does not fall for this nonsense and sees through the regime’s lies. 

Aung San Suu Kyi should never have been arrested and jailed in the first place. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) – which is now outlawed by the regime – was re-elected by an overwhelming margin in 2020.  

At the moment she should be about halfway through her second term, not detained at the mercy of power-hungry soldiers. Suu Kyi won a clear electoral mandate to govern, which was overturned not at the ballot box but by the military’s commander-in-chief General Min Aung Hlaing at gunpoint in a coup in 2021. 

Min Aung Hlaing’s regime has no legitimacy. Indeed, the only way he could secure power was by locking up Burma’s true leaders. The charges against Suu Kyi – ranging from her possessing walkie-talkies and defying Covid-19 restrictions to trumped up accusations of corruption, electoral fraud and breaches of the official secrets act – are so absurd they should have been laughed out of court. There is nothing to ‘pardon’. 

The junta’s pardon only relates to five of the 19 charges Suu Kyi faces, reducing her 33-year sentence by just six years. That means the 78-year-old Nobel Peace Prize Laureate still faces over a quarter of a century in jail. Unless the remainder of the charges are dropped, she will very likely die before she is released.

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Written by
Benedict Rogers
Benedict Rogers is chief executive of Hong Kong Watch and an advisor to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC). His new book, ‘The China Nexus: Thirty Years In and Around the Chinese Communist Party’s Tyranny’, will be published later this year.

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