Myanmar’s military junta has partially pardoned Aung San Suu Kyi, the ousted civilian leader, after detaining her more than two years ago in a coup that plunged the country into turmoil.
State media said the 78-year-old would be pardoned for five out of 19 offences, for which she was jailed for a total of 33 years. This would mean a reduction in the Nobel Peace Laureate’s overall sentence but it was unclear by how long.
Rights groups and Ms Suu Kyi’s supporters have denounced the range of charges against her – from incitement and election fraud to corruption – as politically motivated and intended to keep the popular leader out of office. She has denied all of the accusations.
The coup in February 2021 toppled Ms Suu Kyi’s government and triggered a bloody civil war as pro-democracy supporters united with oppressed ethnic minority groups to oppose military rule.
Thousands have since been killed in a brutal crackdown on protesters and in sustained military operations in remote border regions. Since Myanmar’s generals seized power, the economy has tanked and the health system has fallen apart.
International outrage and sanctions against the military have failed to curb its brutality.
Ms Suu Kyi was convicted during closed-door, military-run trials, with limited access to her lawyer. She has barely been seen for more than two years, barring a meeting with the Thai foreign minister last month, who confirmed she was physically and mentally healthy.
Last week she was transferred from jail to house arrest by the authorities, in what was largely viewed as a positive development after multiple calls for her release.
Both Ms Suu Kyi and Win Myint, the former president, were among more than 7,000 prisoners pardoned in an amnesty to mark Buddhist Lent.
However, in a separate move, the junta on Monday extended the country’s state of emergency by six months, signalling another delay to elections they had previously promised to hold by this month.
Min Aung Hlaing, the junta chief, acknowledged that much of the nation was not under full military control as ethnic armed groups continue to clash with army battalions across large swathes of territory.
“We need for a time to continue our duty for systematic preparation as we shouldn’t hold coming elections in a rush,” he said, according to MRTV.