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Myanmar Junta Sends Aung San Suu Kyi to Solitary Confinement

Myanmar’s ousted civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been transferred from house arrest to prison and is being held in solitary confinement, according to a spokesman for the military junta that seized power last year.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been convicted on half a dozen charges and sentenced to 11 years in prison, faces 13 more counts with a maximum sentence of more than 180 years.

The Nobel Peace Laureate, who turned 77 on Sunday, has long embodied the country’s struggle for democracy and faces the prospect of spending the rest of her life in prison if the military regime remains in power.

Human rights advocates and a spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, criticized her transfer to prison on Wednesday and her placement in solitary confinement.

“I can tell you, we’re very concerned about these latest developments, which goes against everything we’ve been calling for,” said Mr. Guterres’s spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, on Thursday.

Myanmar’s generals, who ruled the country for nearly 50 years, began relaxing their grip more than a decade ago and in 2016 began sharing power with Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi after her party, the National League for Democracy, won national elections.

She led her party to landslide election victories three times over three decades, but was allowed to join in governing the country only once. On the morning of Feb. 1, 2021, just as she and her followers were set to be sworn in for another term, the military reclaimed power and arrested many party leaders.

The coup triggered nationwide protests and a brutal crackdown by the military, known as the Tatmadaw. Soldiers and the police have killed more than 2,000 civilians — shooting many of them dead in the streets — and detained more than 11,200 political prisoners, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Many pro-democracy activists have fled to the jungle and joined a growing People’s Defense Force that has been battling regime troops in many parts of the country.

In recent weeks, the junta has threatened to execute democracy activists detained for opposing the regime, including U Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, and the opposition lawmaker U Phyo Zayar Thaw, a former hip-hop artist. Both were sentenced to death in January under Myanmar’s counterterrorism law during trials that were closed to the public.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar’s independence hero, Gen. Aung San, spent more than 15 years under house arrest before her release in 2010. During that time, she was locked up for brief periods at the notorious Insein Prison.

Since the coup, she had been held under house arrest in undisclosed locations near Naypyidaw, the capital, until Wednesday, when she was transferred to a prison in the city. The move came after workers finished building a new courtroom inside the prison.

“She was transferred from house arrest to the prison on June 22, according to the law,” Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, a junta spokesman, said in a statement Thursday. “She is being treated well and is in solitary confinement in prison.”

A person close to Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, said that she was in good health but was compelled to leave behind her beloved dog, Taichito, a gift from her younger son.

Prison officials said Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was expected to wear a prison uniform and to follow prison rules.

U Kyee Myint, a former prison warden and lawyer in Yangon who has defended many political prisoners, said that the coup’s leader, Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, was driven by his longstanding “hatred” of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi.

“It is very ugly that Min Aung Hlaing took power illegally and filed ridiculous charges against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and sent her to prison,” he said. “Even under previous regimes, she was kept under house arrest.”

Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, to speak out against her imprisonment and pressure the regime to free her.

“The charges against her are politically motivated and bogus, and she has been imprisoned by a kangaroo court wholly beholden to the military,” he said. “This is not justice; this is political retribution.”

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