After five years as the de facto leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi found herself in a familiar place: under house arrest, while facing charges fabricated by the military dictatorship, and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), was on the verge of disbanding.
On Monday, four months after the military seized power in the coup, the popular politician will face five charges in the Nay Pyi Taw court, including illegal possession of a walkie-talkie and violation of coronavirus restrictions while running for elections. Military officials also accused her of corruption and violating the Colonial-era Official Secrets Act.
The confrontation between Aung San Suu Kyi and the commander-in-chief of the army and coup leader Min Aung Lai has a sense of end.
The 75-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi is facing imprisonment, which may put her in jail for life, which prevents her from entering the political arena that she has defined for decades. At the same time, many of her supporters have gone beyond the non-violent resistance and gradual reforms she called for in the past, and instead supported an armed rebellion and the complete overthrow of the military government.
“This time, there is no sign that the regime plans to release Aung San Suu Kyi, allowing her to communicate with her supporters, or use her as a bargaining chip in relations with the outside world. On the contrary, Min Aung Hlaing wants to freely shape the political landscape without being affected by it. The influence of her and the National League for Democracy,” said Richard Horsey, a political analyst with decades of experience in Myanmar.
Despite being largely isolated from the outside world in the past four months, she still plays a central role in the ongoing political crisis. Before the generals violently suppressed the protests, more than 850 civilians were killed. Posters and banners with Aung San Suu Kyi’s face were the mainstay of most demonstrations.
“It’s too early to log her off. There is no doubt that she is the most popular political figure in the country, and no one else can compare with it,” said Tan Min U, a historian and author of Myanmar’s hidden history.
Aung San Suu Kyi Became a political force in the uprising against the former military regime in 1988, Fully prepared to take the helm of the democratic movement in Myanmar during a period of instability. As the daughter of independent icon Aung San, she has just returned from the UK, studied in Oxford and married a British man.
She became synonymous with the democratic movement in Myanmar and won the respect of millions of people by sacrificing freedom and security for her cause, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Dozens or even hundreds of people died. Aung San Suu Kyi’s education and international recognition is also a source of admiration for many of her followers.
But although this is seen by many as a force, it is an insult to the ultra-nationalist army (also known as the armed forces) that often insults “foreign wives”.
In 2008, before allowing elections, the military government drafted a new constitution that allowed it to retain control of several key institutions and guaranteed it had 25% of the seats in parliament. It also added a clause that prohibits anyone with a foreign husband or child from serving as president. Many people believe that this is directly aimed at Aung San Suu Kyi.
With the help of a constitutional lawyer named Ko Ni, she found a way to bypass this ban and became a national consultant after the first election victory of the National League for Democracy in 2015.Two years later, Ko Ni was Shot.
But despite her being a global superstar as an activist, many of her biggest supporters were disappointed once she came to power.
In 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, mainly Muslims, fled to Bangladesh because the military launched Cruel repression in Western Rakhine State.
The Nobel Prize winner did not condemn the military’s actions. After the genocide case was filed at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, she went to the Netherlands Defend what the generals did.
“Aung San Suu Kyi’s domestic popularity grew as she transformed from a dissident to a national leader. Internationally, she was greatly disappointed by the violence against the Rohingya, and she was seen as a denial of abuse. Degree and defending the army’s complicity,” Horsey said.
Activist and protest leader Thinzar Shunlei Yi is one of many young human rights defenders who have admired Aung San Suu Kyi since childhood, but disappointed her during her time in power.
“She is why I became a female human rights defender,” she said. But as the violence against the Rohingya intensified, Thinzar Shunlei Yi became one of the only people openly opposed to the Rohingya, which caused her to disagree with her heroes and supporters.
“I was blunt to her and it turned out to be counterproductive,” she said.
Call for a radical change
It is not just during the Rohingya crisis that Aung San Suu Kyi failed to live up to expectations. “She is also seen as betraying her human rights principles in other ways in the government, including her attitude towards free media, civil society and minority rights,” Horsey explained.
When Two Reuters journalists arrested for exposing military killings of Rohingya civilians, Aung San Suu Kyi said that the case “has nothing to do with freedom of speech.” During her administration, journalists and Facebook users faced criminal charges for criticizing NLD politicians.
After the coup, the leadership of the National League for Democracy was dispersed or imprisoned, and progressive activists like Thinzar Shunlei Yi found themselves spearheading the initial resistance movement. They called for increasingly radical changes, such as the abolition of the 2008 constitution drafted by the military, the complete removal of the military from politics, and reforms to the discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Act that helped make Rohingya stateless. , And armed revolution instead of non-violent resistance.
These positions were finally endorsed by the National Unity Government, a parallel government established by democratically elected legislators who ignored the military government. Thinzar Shunlei Yi admitted that Aung San Suu Kyi was still “so influential” in the democratic movement, but also worried that her influence might be a double-edged sword.
“Even in this revolution where many people are starving and fleeing, people still think about her situation and cry for her,” she said. Even if people get stuck and lose hope, it helps to motivate them.
But Aung San Suu Kyi may disagree with armed uprising, repeal of the constitution, or acceptance of Rohingya as citizens. “We want to know that if she says something against the current revolution, things will turn upside down,” Thinzar Shunlei Yi said.
Although some people believe that Aung San Suu Kyi supported the military in the Rohingya crisis because of fear of a coup or the need to seek help from nationalist voters, others said her position simply reflects her true beliefs on the issue.
“It’s totally unclear that her position on the Rohingya is based on political considerations,” Hosey said. “But of course it means that when the coup took place, when she needed international support the most, her international reputation was greatly compromised.”
‘Full of optimism’
Aung San Suu Kyi faces a total of seven criminal charges; five are in the capital Naypyidaw, one is in the Supreme Court, and one corruption charge has recently been added.
Since her arrest in February, her lawyer has been one of the only people with access to the detained leader. Khin Maung Zaw, the head of her legal team, told Al Jazeera that they met with Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday, June 7 and deposed President Win Myint. Khin Maung Zaw said that the five cases in Naypyidaw were classified as “simple” cases, and hearings were held every Monday and Tuesday until the end of the month.
Regarding the Supreme Court case, he said that the court marked Aung San Suu Kyi as defending herself, which Khin Maung Zaw said was done “without her knowledge and consent.”
“She further stated that she told her detainee that she would not defend her case without a lawyer,” he said.
He said that although Aung San Suu Kyi was not satisfied with the military’s regular delivery of medicines, she and two other politicians “appear to be in good health.”
When asked about her spirit, Khin Maung Zaw said: “Unlike me, she is full of optimism.”
On Wednesday, the military revealed New corruption allegations Sued Aung San Suu Kyi and sentenced to 15 years in prison for accepting bribes and renting land at discounted prices.
Khin Maung Zaw stated that the latest allegations are “ridiculous” and “baseless”. “She may be flawed, but personal greed and corruption are not her characteristics,” he said, calling her “corrupt.”
Given the nature of the trial, Thinzar Shunlei Yi encouraged Aung San Suu Kyi to “join the CDM” by “boycotting the judicial system”. CDM represents the civil disobedience movement, which is a mass strike of civil servants who refuse to work under the military government.
“I don’t believe in the domestic justice system, I don’t think [military] There will be a fair trial against her and other leaders,” she said.
Although the outcome of the trial seems inevitable, Thant Myint-U said that what happened in Myanmar was not the case.
“It is impossible for the military to agree to constitutional reforms,” Thant Myint-U said. “But a visionary economic agenda has brought billions of dollars in new investment and created millions of new jobs, coupled with measures to combat discrimination, build a more inclusive national identity, and engage with civil society Close cooperation may have outflanked the leadership of the army, and perhaps even won many officers from the regiment.”