80-year-old opposition leader sentenced to 20 years in prison for criticizing Myanmar coup – Radio Free Asia
A special court in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw on Friday jailed an 80-year-old senior opposition leader for two decades for criticizing the February 1 military coup that toppled the country’s elected civilian government, reported declared his family.
The sentence imposed on National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Win Htain is the most severe to date against detained members of the former government, and will likely keep the veteran political prisoner behind bars for the rest of his life. .
Win Htain, who was charged with sedition under Section 124 (A) of Myanmar’s Criminal Code, had been jailed twice previously, serving more than 20 years for opposing previous military governments from the country.
Win Htain’s younger brother Kyaw Lin told RFA after the trial that the former NLD official was indicted and sentenced for spreading a message given to him by the former state councilor and national leader of facto Aung San Suu Kyi on the eve of the coup, and for statements he later made in a video interview with the media.
“In this interview, he said that he knew he would be arrested for sure for sending this message, and that he was ready to be taken into custody,” Kyaw Lin said, adding that Win Htain had been arrested on February 4. , three days after the outbreak of the coup.
“He is over 80 years old and is a respected president of the NLD, but the military council did not spare him and gave him a long prison sentence,” he said, referring to the junta, which is officially called the State Administrative Council. .
“I think they gave him a sentence as severe as the punishment for sending Aung San Suu Kyi’s message to the public and to the world,” he added.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s post anticipating the February 1 military decision against the NLD urged Myanmar to protest the military coup.
It was released after the military arrested her and dozens of ruling party officials and declared a one-year state of emergency to deal with unproven allegations of voter fraud in the election. 2020 that brought the NLD back to power.
“We strongly condemn this condemnation,” said Aung Myo Min, human rights minister of the shadow government of national unity (NUG) set up to oppose the ruling junta in Myanmar.
Win Htain was denied his legal rights at the trial, including the right to a defense, the right to submit evidence to court and the right to appeal, he said.
“Myanmar’s courts have collapsed and are now controlled by the military regime. “
“Win Htain is a senior NLD leader and is now very old, so to sentence him to 20 years in prison is simply cruel and vindictive, an act of retaliation,” the former NLD lawmaker added, Win Aung. “It is clear that he was wrongly convicted.”
In a statement released after the trial, Phil Robertson, director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, based in New York, called Win Htain’s 20-year prison sentence “outrageous and unacceptable.”
“He’s already an old man and they are going to sideline him for the rest of his life,” said Robertson, calling the verdict against the NLD chief an example of “joke justice” imposed by a court under full military control.
“[Win Htain] didn’t do anything he should be in jail for. He should be released immediately and unconditionally, ”said Robertson.
Reported by Ye Kaung Myint Maung and Khin Maung Soe for the Myanmar service of RFA. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Richard Finney.