Implications of Suu Kyi’s Transfer to House Arrest

Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), has been moved from solitary confinement to a house arrest facility at a government building in the capital Naypyidaw. She also got amnesty from five criminal case a National League for Democracy (NLD) spokesperson confirmed. The shift occurs in advance of Monday’s 4th extension of the country’s state of emergency.

Suu Kyi is the daughter of Myanmar’s martyred independence hero Gen. Aung San. Suu Kyi rose to prominence in the 8888 Uprising of 8 August 1988 and became the General Secretary of the NLD, which she had newly formed with the help of several retired army officials who criticized the military junta. In the 1990 elections, NLD won 81% of the seats in Parliament, but the results were nullified, as the military government refused to hand over power, resulting in an international outcry. She had been detained before the elections and remained under house arrest for almost 15 of the 21 years from 1989 to 2010, becoming one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners. In 1999, Time magazine named her one of the “Children of Gandhi” and his spiritual heir to nonviolence.

Her party won a landslide victory in the 2015 and 2020 general elections, but on 1 February 2021 following a coup d’état, she and her party were ousted by the military regime. Later, she received a total 33-year prison sentences in 19 charges including corruption, possession of illegal walkie-talkies and the violation of COVID-19 restrictions. The United Nations, most European countries, and the United States condemned the arrests, trials, and sentences as politically motivated. As the opposition leader, Suu Kyi had been the face of Myanmar’s democracy movement and her utmost popularity among the mass people remains a nightmare to the miliary junta govt.

It is difficult to believe that the junta’s decision to move Aung San Suu Kyi into a somewhat less severe type of detention is an indication of its sincere wish to make peace with the groups it has labelled “terrorists” and vowed to subdue with force. It is probably best to interpret this, like the military’s account of Aung San Suu Kyi’s meeting with Don Pramudwinai earlier this month, in which it claimed that she disavowed the anti-junta resistance and the National Unity Government, as an effort to capitalise on Aung San Suu Kyi’s strong symbolic status in order to win over the public and relieve mounting international pressure.

The military has long attempted to take advantage of Aung San Suu Kyi’s totemic status both domestically and internationally. In fact, one of the main reasons why Western governments eventually agreed to go along and lift the economic sanctions and investment bans that they had imposed since the 1990s was the NLD leader’s readiness to support the military-led reform process in the early 2010s.

In order to solicit her assistance in peace talks with the armed resistance, three military officers paid Suu Kyi two visits last month, on May 27 and June 4, according to RFA. The National League for Democracy (NLD) reveals that Suu Kyi met with Khun Myat, the former speaker of parliament, last week. She is also set to meet with Deng Xijun, China’s special envoy for Asian Affairs, who the NLD reported is currently in the nation. Suu Kyi sought to collaborate with the military for the sake of the security of the people in the years prior to the coup, thus the Junta is utilizing her influence to try and put an end to the violent struggle against the regime.

The action, according to Angshuman Choudhury of India’s Centre for Policy Research, is “literally a page out of the junta’s old, deadbeat playbook – designed to appease international audiences, quiet the resistance at home, and sow divisions within the revolution.”

According to Min Lwin Oo, a Burmese human rights attorney who now resides in Norway, “the junta has been engaged in a protracted conflict with Myanmar’s increasingly potent armed resistance groups and ethnic armed organizations since the military detained Suu Kyi and other key NLD figures during the coup. The action is therefore intended to relieve some pressure. It’s also possible that the change was made to make it simpler for foreign diplomats to visit her.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s reputation to the world, however, was severely damaged due to her alleged complicity in the military’s brutal attacks on the Rohingya people in western Myanmar. Also at home, the opposition to military rule still finds inspiration in Aung San Suu Kyi, but it is no longer quite as dependent on her and has, in many respects, evolved beyond the previous paradigm of political resistance, from which she is inseparable. All of this is to argue that the removal of Myanmar’s most well-known political prisoner from solitary confinement may signify a tactical change on the side of the military in the nation.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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