August 18, 2022
JAKARTA – The six-year jail sentence handed to Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday is just another proof of the brutality of Myanmar junta-leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and his deliberate mockery of ASEAN leaders who have barred him and his representatives from any official ASEAN meeting. The general looks confident that some ASEAN and world leaders will still befriend him despite his act of killings and open challenge against the United Nations.
Any expression of regret from ASEAN will be an unacceptable response to the Myanmar junta’s muscle-flexing show that jeopardizes the five-point consensus Hlaing and ASEAN leaders agreed upon in Jakarta last year. Knowing that the junta has repeatedly pooh-poohed the agreement, ASEAN should take harsher measures against it.
Acting as the de-facto prosecutor and judge, Hlaing delivered a new verdict that deprives Suu Kyi, the country’s most popular and respected leader, of her right to contest the planned general election. The punishment is a repeat of the tragic fate of her father, Aung San, the founding father of Myanmar.
Hlaing, through his fully controlled court, found Suu Kyi guilty of misusing funds from a charity to build a house and lease government-owned land, according to the Myanmar News Agency (MNA).
The Army general is so eager to imprison the 77-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate as long as he pleases. Technically Suu Kyi will remain a convict even after she dies in prison because of various charges leveled on her.
The bloodthirsty general just recently hanged four pro-democracy activists as he underscored his regime of terror. The execution took place ahead of the ASEAN foreign ministerial meeting, as if to send a message to ASEAN leaders that he did not care about the regional bloc.
The sentencing of Suu Kyi came only a day before the UN special envoy on Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, arrived in Myanmar for the first time since she assumed the post 10 months ago. Heyzer set foot in Myanmar on Tuesday, and according to AFP she would address the “deteriorating situation and immediate concerns” of the UN to the military junta.
Hlaing arrested Suu Kyi soon after he toppled her government on Feb. 1 last year. She has been barred from receiving guests, and the general did not even grant her request to be accompanied by her dog, which he received as a gift from his second son.
We call on Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi to consult her ASEAN counterparts, especially from Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Cambodia as the chair of ASEAN. The group has to issue another strong stance against Hlaing’s uncivilized act of terror.
As Retno herself put it, ASEAN cannot let the Myanmar issue dictate the grouping.