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Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi Moved From Prison Amid Heat Wave

Myanmar's junta says it has moved elderly prisoners, including former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, amid severe heat. It is not clear whether her move from prison is temporary.
People protesting for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo: Unsplash

Myanmar‘s jailed former leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has been moved out from prison along with other elderly inmates as a health measure to protect them from severe heat, the military government said on Wednesday.

Win Myint, the 72-year-old former president of her ousted government, was also reportedly among the prisoners taken from prison amid the heat wave.

A military source told AFP news agency that Suu Kyi and Win Myint were transferred to house arrest.  Suu Kyi, 78,  has been serving a 27-year prison term in the capital, Naypyitaw, after being convicted on several charges that her supporters and rights groups say were politically motivated.

According to Myanmar’s meteorological department, Naypyitaw saw temperatures of 39°C (102.2 F) on Tuesday afternoon.

What did the government say?

“Since the weather is extremely hot, it is not only for Aung San Suu Kyi … For all those who need necessary precautions, especially elderly prisoners, we are working to protect them from heatstroke,” junta spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun said in comments reported by four media outlets late on Tuesday.

“Not only Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Win Myint but also some old prisoners were given necessary care because of very hot weather,” Zaw Min Tun told AFP news agency, using honorific titles to refer to the former leaders.

Zaw Min Tun did explicitly not say in his remarks where the released prisoners were being moved to.

However, before being sent to prison, Suu Kyi was reportedly held in a military safe house inside an army base.

She was also held under house arrest for a total of 15 years under a previous junta at a family residence on Yangon’s Inya Lake, though that was put up for sale in March.

Why is Sung Kyi in prison?

The army ousted the elected government in 2021. It imprisoned Suu Kyi, who was convicted on a range of charges ranging from treason and bribery to violations of the telecommunications law and COVID-19 rules.

She has largely been hidden from view since the military detained her and has reportedly suffered from ill health.

World leaders and pro-democracy activists have repeatedly called for her release. Win Myint, her former president, was given an eight-year sentence following the government’s ouster.

The 2021 coup, which ended ten years of democracy in the country after decades of army rule, roused significant public opposition, which the military has tried to crush with force. The ensuing conflict has left more than 4,800 civilians dead.

The army is now battling to retain power amid resistance from civilian anti-junta fighters and ethnic minority armed groups.

Prisoner amnesty

State-run MRTV television also announced on Wednesday that the head of the ruling military council, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, had pardoned 3,303 prisoners for the Thingyan New Year holiday and reduced sentences for others.

Those pardoned include 28 foreigners —13 Indonesians and 15 Sri Lankans — who will be deported, according to MRTV. Mass amnesties on the holiday are not unusual in Myanmar. However, it is not clear whether the pardoned prisoners included pro-democracy activists.

This story was originally published on DW.

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