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Myanmar says Suu Kyi is being held alone in a new prison

BANGKOK — Myanmar’s military government confirmed on Thursday that ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi had been moved to a separate prison from other detainees.

Suu Kyi was arrested on February 1, 2021, when the military seized power from her elected government. She was first detained at her residence in Naypyitaw, the capital, but was later moved to at least one other location. For most of the past year, she has been held at an undisclosed location in Naypyitaw, generally believed to be a military base.

Major General Zaw Min Tun, spokesperson for the ruling military council, confirmed in a text message to reporters that Suu Kyi had been transferred to Naypyitaw main prison on Wednesday, where she is being held separately under “closely guarded” circumstances. “. The news of his transfer had been reported on Wednesday but had not been officially confirmed.

He said that Suu Kyi, having already been convicted in several cases, was transferred to prison according to law.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is ‘very concerned’ about the latest developments regarding Suu Kyi’s isolation, which run counter to UN calls for her release and the release of all other political prisoners, said UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric, adding “we are concerned about his condition”. .”

A legal official familiar with Suu Kyi’s legal proceedings said she was being held in a newly constructed building with three female police officers, whose duty it is to help her. His ongoing trials will also take place at the prison, in another newly constructed facility. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to release information about his cases.

Suu Kyi, who turned 77 on Sunday, spent around 15 years in detention under a previous military government, but almost all of those years were under house arrest at her family home in Yangon, the country’s largest city.

The secret place where she had been held for most of the past year was a residence. She had nine people to help her there and was allowed to keep a dog which was an arranged gift from one of her sons, said another legal official, who also asked not to be named for fear or against government repercussions.

The official said that neither his assistants nor the dog accompanied Suu Kyi to his new prison.

Suu Kyi is on trial for several counts, including corruption. Her supporters say the charges are politically motivated to discredit her and legitimize the military’s takeover.

She has previously been sentenced to 11 years in prison for illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, sedition and a first count of bribery.

The prison where Suu Kyi is being held is slightly west of Naypyitaw. It was built in 2014 to temporarily hold inmates awaiting trial.

One of the legal officials said Suu Kyi’s first hearing in the prison’s new courtroom was held on Thursday in the Official Secrets Act violation case.

Defense attorneys cross-examined three prosecution witnesses but details of their testimony were not available. All of Suu Kyi’s cases have taken place behind closed doors. His lawyers are prohibited from discussing the proceedings.

Suu Kyi’s co-defendants in the case are Australian economist Sean Turnell, who had been her adviser, and three former cabinet ministers.

Turnell is also being held in the same prison as Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi is also on trial on 11 counts of corruption, each carrying a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, and an election fraud charge, which carries a maximum sentence of three years.

The military takeover last year sparked peaceful nationwide protests that security forces put down with lethal force, sparking armed resistance that some UN experts are now calling a civil war .

The ruling military council has announced its intention to hold new elections around the middle of next year if circumstances allow. However, critics warn that such polls are unlikely to be free and fair.

Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said on Thursday the military was working hard to “create an impression of legitimacy” after toppling Suu Kyi’s government.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a landslide victory in the November 2020 general election. The military claimed it seized power because polls were tainted by widespread fraud – an allegation that has not not been corroborated by independent election observers.

“Any suggestion that there might be a possibility of free and fair elections in Myanmar in 2023 is frankly absurd,” Andrews told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “You can’t have free and fair elections if you’ve locked in your opponents.”

ABC News

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