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“Theatre of the absurd”: UN human rights expert denounces Suu Kyi sentence

December 6th, 2021  •  Author:   Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights  •  4 minute read
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GENEVA (6 December 2021) – A UN human rights expert derided the sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint to four years in jail by a military-controlled court in Myanmar as the “theatre of the absurd”, saying the hearing underscored the complete lack of rule of law in the country.

“State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint are hostages, not criminals,” said UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews. “This proceeding should not be confused with an actual trial – it is theatre of the absurd and a gross violation of human rights.

“Aung San Suu Kyi, and thousands of others, are being arbitrarily detained in a system of injustice, guilty of only exercising their fundamental rights.”

Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were jailed on Monday on charges of incitement and breaching coronavirus restrictions.

“Today’s sentencing demonstrates why the international community must take stronger action to support the people of Myanmar by denying the junta the revenue and weapons that they need to continue their illegitimate grip on the people of Myanmar.

“I call upon Member States to significantly increase pressure on the junta as a result of this outrageous action.”

The junta’s arrest and sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi and thousands of others highlights the relentless assault on the people of Myanmar’s right to exercise their civil and political rights, Andrews said.

One of the charges Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint were sentenced under—Section 505(b) of the Penal Code—criminalizes speech that may cause “fear or alarm to the public” or that leads others to upset “public tranquility.” Relying on this provision, as well as draconian and illegitimate amendments to other existing laws and regulations, the junta has systematically violated the people of Myanmar’s right to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and access to information.

Reports indicate that after the verdict of this sham trial was released, peaceful protesters were executed on the streets of Yangon by junta forces, Andrews said. A military vehicle ran directly into them while exercising their basic right of free speech.

“What more do we need to see from this illegal military junta before the international community takes decisive, principled action?” Andrews asked.


Mr. Thomas Andrews (United States of America) is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. A former member of the US Congress from Maine, Andrews is a Robina Senior Human Rights Fellow at Yale Law School and an Associate of Harvard University’s Asia Center. He has worked with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and parliamentarians, NGOs and political parties in Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine and Yemen. He has been a consultant for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and the Euro-Burma Network and has run advocacy NGOs including Win Without War and United to End Genocide.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Comprising the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, Special Procedures is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Myanmar

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