Myanmar’s junta moves Aung San Suu Kyi to house arrest, report says

The 78-year-old democracy icon was moved because of the prison’s brutal daytime heat, spokesman said.
By RFA Burmese
2024.04.16
Myanmar’s junta moves Aung San Suu Kyi to house arrest, report says Myanmar nationals living in Thailand hold pictures of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Bangkok on Feb. 1, 2024.
(Sakchai Lalit/AP)

Myanmar’s military junta moved Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s former de facto leader, from Naypyidaw Prison to house arrest on Tuesday, Yangon-based Eleven Media reported.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is now 78, was believed to have been in solitary confinement at the prison in the capital.

She was arrested shortly after the Feb. 1, 2021, military coup d’etat that removed her National League for Democracy, or NLD, from power. She was eventually sentenced by the junta to 33 years on 19 charges – later reduced to 27 years. 

For much of 2023, Suu Kyi’s whereabouts were unknown and her legal team was unable to meet with her at the prison. The junta has kept her out of view since her arrest – likely a reflection of her persistent popularity.

Eleven Media reported that she was transferred under tight security in the capital. The outlet also said that former President Win Myint was moved to house arrest from Taungoo Prison in central Myanmar’s Bago region. 

A half dozen cars went into Naypyidaw Prison on Tuesday – four of them with security forces and two other cars carrying junta senior officials, according to NLD Central Working Committee member Kyaw Htwe, citing his own sources.

“They brought Auntie with them,” he told Radio Free Asia, referring to Suu Kyi. “She had to leave all her belongings behind, and it is still unknown where she was taken.”

ENG_BUR_SuuKyiMoved_04162024.2.jpg
A student from Myanmar who lives in Taiwan holds a poster of former leader Win Myint during a protest against the military coup in her home country at National Taiwan University in Taipei on Feb. 28, 2021. (Sam Yeh/AFP)

Junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun confirmed the transfers to Voice of America’s Burmese service, saying that Suu Kyi and Win Myint were moved to relieve them from the brutal daytime heat during the hot season, when temperatures in Naypyidaw have soared above 40 degrees Celsius (104 F).

He didn’t mention their new location or give any other reasons for the transfer. RFA was unable to reach Zaw Min Tun on Tuesday.

Suu Kyi’s son, Kim Aris, told RFA that he was worried about his mother’s health because of the current high temperatures. 

Sources close to Win Myint’s family told RFA they hadn’t received any information about his transfer.

Recent Chinese delegation

“To me, it’s not because of hot weather, but because of political heat and the current crisis,” political commentator Than Soe Naing said. 

China’s ambassador to Myanmar in Yangon, Chen Hai, recently traveled to Myanmar to meet with former junta chief Than Shwe and other leaders of his military regime, which ruled from 1992 to 2011.

There were some reports that the ambassador also met with Suu Kyi. However, the Chinese embassy in Yangon didn’t make any statement about such a meeting and RFA was unable to verify the reports. 

“The military council doesn’t pay much attention to international pressure,” said Thike Tun Oo,  a member of the leading committee of the Political Prisoners Network-Myanmar. 

“Instead, they fear China more,” he said. “It can be assumed that this happened as a consequence of the recent meetings between senior Chinese officials and the military council.”

Translated by Aung Naing. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.

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