Aung San Suu Kyi

Date of Birth: June 19, 1945
Occupation: Politician
Arrested: May 30, 2003
Charges: N/A
Sentence: N/A
Released: November 13, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi was the Chairperson of Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. She was illegally detained by the Myanmar junta for nearly 15 years and as of February 2021 was returned to prison following a military coup. Freedom Now does not currently represent Suu Kyi and has not actively been involved in her case since her release from detention in 2010.

During the 1988 protests against the military government, Suu Kyi gave numerous speeches calling for freedom and democracy in Myanmar. On July 20, 1989, the junta placed Suu Kyi under house arrest, without charge or trial. In 1990, the NLD and its allies won more than 80 percent of the seats in parliament; in what was Myanmar’s last and only democratic election. The military junta, however, never recognized the results. Suu Kyi, who would have been the leader of the rightfully elected government, remained under house arrest. She was released after nearly six years of arbitrary detention on July 10, 1995. Suu Kyi continued her outspoken opposition to the military junta’s practices and was again detained under illegal house arrest from 2000 to 2002.

Suu Kyi’s series of illegal detentions by the Myanmar junta began in May 2003. Suu Kyi launched a 95-township tour to promote the activities of the NLD after her release from house arrest in May 2002. However, on May 30, 2003, her convoy was attacked by the junta-created Union Solidarity Development Association in an apparent assassination attempt. Over 70 of her supporters were murdered during the attempt. Suu Kyi was then placed into “protective custody” by the junta. This alleged protective custody was executed under Myanmar’s draconian State Protection Law and illegally applied to Suu Kyi.

Freedom Now filed petitions with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Suu Kyi in June 2006, June 2008, August 2009, and February 2010. The Working Group released opinions in August 2007, March 2009, and June 2010. Each found violations of international law and called for Suu Kyi’s immediate release.

Freedom Now brought international attention to Suu Kyi’s case by publishing op-eds in the International Herald Tribune (2), Far Eastern Economic Review, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Times, and the Irrawaddy Times; facilitating a letter from 59 former heads of state to the junta; facilitating a letter from 112 former heads of state to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; facilitating a letter from 17 members of Congress to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and facilitating a letter from 12 members of the U.S. Senate Women’s Caucus to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

On August 11, 2009, three months after she was due to be freed from her illegal house arrest of six years, Suu Kyi was sentenced to three years in prison, which was then commuted to 18 months of house arrest. According to the junta, this extension was justified by Suu Kyi’s alleged violation of the terms of her house arrest when American John Yettaw swam onto her property uninvited. Freedom Now published a legal memorandum that found this extension was illegal.

On November 13, 2010, the Myanmar junta released Suu Kyi from her illegal house arrest. In April 2016, Suu Kyi was appointed State Counsellor, a position that made her the de facto head of government, equivalent to a prime minister.

In February 2021, Suu Kyi was again imprisoned following a military coup.

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