Myanmar junta pardons former leader Suu Kyi for five offenses

By Reuters   July 31, 2023 | 11:30 pm PT
Myanmar junta pardons former leader Suu Kyi for five offenses
Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attends Invest Myanmar in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, January 28, 2019. Photo by Reuters/Ann Wang
Myanmar's former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been pardoned on five of the 19 offenses for which she was convicted and jailed for a total of 33 years, state media and an informed source reported on Tuesday.

The pardons would mean a reduction in her jail term of six years, junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun told the Eleven Media Group.

The Nobel Laureate, who last week moved from prison to house arrest in the capital, Naypyitaw, has been in detention since the military seized power in a coup in early 2021.

The military's State Administration Council also pardoned former president Win Myint, who was also arrested at the same time as Suu Kyi after the 2021 coup, on some of the charges for which he was convicted resulting in a reduction of four years in his jail term, the junta spokesman was quoted as saying.

Suu Kyi, 78, denied all of the charges for which she was convicted, ranging from incitement and election fraud to corruption, and has been appealing against them.

An informed source said both Suu Kyi and Win Myint would remain in detention.

"She won't be free from house arrest," said the source who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar's independence hero, was first put under house arrest in 1989 after huge protests against decades of military rule.

In 1991, she won the Nobel Peace Prize for campaigning for democracy but was only fully released from house arrest in 2010. She swept a 2015 election, held as part of tentative military reforms and her party won the next election in November 2020.

But the military complained of election fraud after the 2020 vote and said it had to take power in early 2021 to ensure that the complaints were investigated. Suu Kyi's party rejected the accusations of election fraud.

Many governments, particularly in the West, have called for the unconditional release of Suu Kyi and thousands of others detained in a bloody crackdown that the junta unleashed against pro-democracy protests in the wake of the coup.

One diplomatic source described the pardons as a "cosmetic move."

"This is a signal to the international community - without doing anything substantive," said the source who declined to be identified.

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