Deposed Myanmar civilian leader Do Aung San Suu Kyi has been transferred from house arrest to prison and is being held in solitary confinement, a spokesman for the military junta that seized power last year said.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who was convicted on half a dozen charges and sentenced to 11 years in prison, faces 13 more counts with a maximum sentence of over 180 years.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who turned 77 on Sunday, has long epitomized the country’s struggle for democracy and faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison if the military regime remains in power.
Human rights activists and the representative of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres criticized her transfer to prison on Wednesday and placement in solitary confinement.
“I can tell you that we are very concerned about these latest developments, which go against everything we have called for,” Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for Mr. Guterres, said Thursday.
Myanmar’s generals, who have ruled the country for nearly 50 years, began to loosen their grip more than a decade ago and began sharing power with Ms Aung San Suu Kyi in 2016 after her party, the National League for Democracy, won national elections.
She led her party to landslide electoral victories three times in three decades, but only once was she allowed to join the government. On the morning of February 1, 2021, when she and her followers were to be sworn in for a new term, the military restored power and arrested many party leaders.
The coup sparked nationwide protests and a brutal crackdown by the military, known as the Tatmadaw. According to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, soldiers and police killed more than 2,000 civilians, many of whom were shot in the streets, and detained more than 11,200 political prisoners.
Many pro-democracy activists have fled into the jungle and joined the growing People’s Defense Forces, which are fighting regime troops in many parts of the country.
In recent weeks, the junta has threatened to execute Democratic activists detained for opposing the regime, including Wu Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, and opposition MP Wu Phyo Zayar Tou, a former hip-hop artist. Both were sentenced to death in January under Myanmar’s anti-terrorism law in trials that were closed to the public.
Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Myanmar’s independence hero General Aung San, spent over 15 years under house arrest until her release in 2010. During this time, she was briefly imprisoned in the notorious Insein Prison.
After the coup, she was kept under house arrest at undisclosed locations near Naypyidaw, the capital, until Wednesday, when she was transferred to the city jail. The move came after workers finished building a new courtroom inside the prison.
“In accordance with the law, she was transferred from house arrest to prison on June 22,” Major General Zo Min Tun, a spokesman for the junta, said on Thursday. “She is treated well and is in solitary confinement in prison.”
A person close to Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, said she was in good health but was forced to leave her beloved dog Taichito, a gift from her youngest son.
Prison officials said that Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi had to wear a prison uniform and follow prison rules.
U Ki Myint, a former prison guard and lawyer in Yangon who has defended many political prisoners, said the coup leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, was driven by his long-standing “hatred” of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
“It is very ugly that Min Aung Hlaing illegally came to power, made ridiculous accusations against Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and sent her to jail,” he said. “Even under previous regimes, she was kept under house arrest.”
Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director, called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, to speak out against her detention and put pressure on the regime to release her.
“The charges against her are politically motivated and falsified, and she was imprisoned by a kangaroo court entirely beholden to the military,” he said. “This is not justice; it’s political retribution.”