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Myanmar: Suu Kyi sentence reduced in partial pardon

August 1, 2023

Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained since Myanmar's democratically elected government was overthrown in a 2021 military coup. The junta has said the partial pardon will shave 6 years off a 33-year sentence.

A protester holds a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration marking International Migrants Day outside the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok in December 2022
Suu Kyi has remained popular, and her supporters have staged many protests outside of Myanmar's embassies in other countriesImage: Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press/picture alliance

State media in Myanmar reported Tuesday that civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi received a partial pardon by the country's ruling junta in an amnesty of more than 7,000 prisoners to mark Buddhist Lent. 

"Chairman of State Administration Council pardons Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who was sentenced by the relevant courts," a broadcast said.

The pardon is to cover just five of the many offenses for which she has been convicted. A broadcast said Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, still faces 14 other cases. 

According to an "informed source" cited by Reuters news agency, she will remain in detention.

The partial clemency comes after Myanmar's junta extended a "state of emergency" it imposed when it overthrew Suu Kyi's elected government in 2021 and delayed elections it had promised would take place in August. The junta claimed the vote was postponed due to "ongoing violence." 

Since the coup, Myanmar has been in chaos, with armed resistance movements opposing the junta in several regions. The junta has also imposed a bloody crackdown its opponents, which has been widely condemned and has resulted in Western sanctions. 

Myanmar marks two years since military coup

Suu Kyi's long prison term

Since the army overthrew Suu Kyi's government, she has been sentenced to a total of 33 years in jail on charges which critics and activists call politically motivated.

They include corruption, possession of illegal walkie-talkies and violations of coronavirus restrictions.

Junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun told Myanmar's Eleven Media Group that the pardons mean Suu Kyi's sentence would be reduced by six years. 

On Friday, the 78-year-old was reportedly moved from prison to house arrest in the capital, Naypyitaw.

At the time, the Associated Press had cited an unidentified security official as saying the move was an act of clemency to prisoners as part of a religious ceremony to take place the next week.

Suu Kyi has been seen only once since she was held after the coup, and that just in state media photos taken in a courtroom.

Former President Win Myint was also among the thousands of prisoners who received some sort of pardon on the religious occasion.

The junta frequently grants amnesty to prisoners to mark holidays or special Buddhist dates.

 tj/wmr (AFP, Reuters, AP)