• Bloomberg, AFP-JIJI

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A Myanmar court on Monday jailed ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi for four years for inciting dissent against the military and breaching COVID-19 rules, according to a spokesman for the ruling junta.

Suu Kyi “was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment under section 505(b) and two years’ imprisonment under natural disaster law,” junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said.

Former president Win Myint was also jailed for four years under the same charges, he said, adding that they would not yet be taken to prison.

“They will face other charges from the places where they are staying now” in the capital Naypyidaw, he added, without giving further details.

The 76-year-old Suu Kyi has been detained by the military regime since it wrested control of the government in the early hours of Feb. 1, ending Myanmar’s brief democratic interlude. The coup triggered widespread protests in the nation that have led to economic devastation and renewed civil conflict. The army has sought to violently quell unrest, killing more than 1,300 demonstrators and making more than 10,000 arrests, prompting condemnation even among Myanmar’s neighbors in Southeast Asia.

The American embassy on Sunday said it was “horrified” by reports that security forces opened fire against, ran over and killed several peaceful protesters in Yangon that morning.

Since Suu Kyi’s arrest the junta has since added a slew of other indictments, including violating the official secrets act, corruption and electoral fraud. The Nobel laureate faces decades in jail if convicted on all counts.

Journalists have been barred from proceedings in the special court in the military-built capital, and Suu Kyi’s lawyers were recently banned from speaking to the media.

The trials represent a push by the military to discredit Suu Kyi after her party won more than 80% of the seats in the election one year ago. The military declared the elections as tainted by widespread fraud even though international observers said it was mostly free and fair.

“The harsh sentences handed down to Aung San Suu Kyi on these bogus charges are the latest example of the military’s determination to eliminate all opposition and suffocate freedoms in Myanmar,” Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns Ming Yu Hah said in a statement.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun didn’t immediately answer calls and reply to messages seeking confirmation of the court’s order.

Military leader Min Aung Hlaing’s regime has slapped her with at least 12 criminal charges including abuse of power to win elections, divulging state secrets and possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies. It remains to be seen whether Suu Kyi will be allowed to appeal the decision.

Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest for nearly 15 years before her release in 2010 as the country embraced democratic reforms. Since the coup she’s been held in an unknown location in Naypyidaw, far from her restive supporters, and she hasn’t been seen publicly outside of court appearances.

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