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Myanmar Military Moves Former Leader Aung San Suu Kyi From Prison To House Arrest Amid Heatwave

Myanmar’s former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has been transferred from prison to house arrest due to a heatwave.

Suu Kyi

Myanmar’s former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been imprisoned since the military seized power in February 2021, has been transferred from prison to house arrest due to health concerns related to a heatwave, as announced by the military government. The move, aimed at protecting Suu Kyi’s health, comes amidst escalating conflict between the military and pro-democracy resistance fighters across the country.

Suu Kyi, aged 78, along with Win Myint, the former president of her ousted government, were among several elderly and infirm prisoners relocated from prison facilities due to severe heat, according to Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, the military spokesperson.

She was held in a specially-built wing of the main prison in the capital Naypyitaw, where Myanmar’s meteorological department said temperatures reached 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday afternoon.

Despite the transfer, the move has not been publicly announced in Myanmar. Information concerning Suu Kyi is tightly managed by the military government, and a gag order prohibits her lawyers from discussing her cases with the media. Her legal representatives have encountered numerous obstacles, such as the inability to meet her in person to receive instructions, since their last face-to-face interaction with her in December 2022.

The decision to transfer Suu Kyi coincides with a series of setbacks for the military in its efforts to suppress pro-democracy movements and ethnic minority guerrilla forces. The conflict erupted following the military’s overthrow of the elected government in February 2021 and subsequent crackdown on peaceful protests advocating for the restoration of democratic governance.

Suu Kyi has been serving a 27-year prison sentence on various charges, which her supporters and independent analysts contend are politically motivated and fabricated to legitimise the military’s seisure of power.

The military’s allegations that her party used widespread electoral fraud to win a landslide victory in the 2020 general election has been widely dismissed by impartial observers.

Reports by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners say that over 20,251 individuals detained on political grounds since the military takeover remain in custody, adding that most of them are yet to receive criminal convictions.

Concerns about Suu Kyi’s health have been mounting, with reports of deteriorating conditions and denial of adequate medical care. Reports emerged in September last year, saying that she was suffering from symptoms of low blood pressure including dizziness and loss of appetite, but had been denied treatment at qualified facilities outside the prison system.

Her son, Kim Aris, residing in England, has expressed deep concern over his mother’s well-being, saying he heard reports that his mother was suffering from gum problems and was unable to eat. However, these reports could not be independently verified, since information about Suu Kyi’s health and condition is tightly controlled by the military government.

Aris urged that Myanmar’s military government be pressured to free his mother and other political prisoners.

The latest move to place Suu Kyi under house arrest raises questions about its duration and intentions and spokesperson Zaw Min Tun did not specify the whereabouts of the released prisoners.

Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar’s revered independence leader Gen. Aung San has endured years of persecution and 15 years as a political prisoner for her steadfast commitment to democratic principles. Her resilience and dedication to nonviolent resistance have made her an iconic figure in the struggle for democracy, earning her international recognition, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

Melissa Enoch

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