The United Nations human rights chief on Monday denounced the conviction and sentencing of Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in prison and called for her release.
"The conviction of the State Counsellor following a sham trial in secretive proceedings before a military-controlled court is nothing but politically motivated," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement issued by her Geneva office.
"It is not only about arbitrary denial of her freedom – it closes yet another door to political dialogue."
On Monday, a military court in Myanmar convicted Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, sentencing her to four years in prison on charges of violating COVID-19 restrictions and incitement.
In staging the Feb. 1 coup, the Myanmar military arrested Suu Kyi, ousted President Win Myint, and numerous members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
Since then, the Tatmadaw have arbitrarily detained more than 10,000 of their opponents, the rights office said.
At least 175 people – including many NLD members – reported to have died in custody, most likely due to ill-treatment or torture, it added.
"The military is attempting to instrumentalize the courts to remove all political opposition," Bachelet said. "But these cases cannot provide a legal veneer to the illegitimacy of the coup and military rule."
She called for the immediate release of all those arbitrarily detained.
- More charges
"This verdict against Aung San Suu Kyi will only deepen rejection of the coup," the UN rights chief stated.
"It will harden positions when what is needed is dialogue and a peaceful, political settlement of this crisis."
Suu Kyi, 76, still faces charges of corruption and electoral fraud.
On Nov. 10, Than Naing, former planning minister of Kayin state, was sentenced to 90 years, and Nan Khin Htwe Myint, former chief minister of the state, to 75 years of imprisonment on corruption charges.
Bachelet also strongly condemned the "vicious, utterly reprehensible" attack reported Sunday in the Kyimyindaing township in Yangon, where security forces used a truck to ram into unarmed protesters and then fired upon the group using live ammunition.
The high commissioner expressed concern that these developments risk further exacerbating tensions and violence.