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A court in Myanmar postpones its verdict for ousted leader Suu Kyi


In Myanmar, where the military is in control, a court has postponed a verdict in the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi. She was ousted from leadership and detained by the military when it seized power on February 1 of this year. And she's facing charges that could see her jailed for decades. Reporter Michael Sullivan is with us now from neighboring Thailand. Hi, Michael.


KING: A lot of people were waiting on this verdict. Why was it delayed?

SULLIVAN: It's not clear. The court was supposed to rule today on the incitement charges and on Suu Kyi allegedly violating coronavirus restrictions during last November's election, an election her party won in a landslide. Both were postponed, and we don't know much more. The military has issued a gag order forbidding Suu Kyi's lawyers from talking about the cases publicly. We do know that the court is set to reconvene on Monday.

KING: She is facing many charges, including some that are very serious. Can you just lay out what she's looking at here?

SULLIVAN: She's looking at violating the state Official Secrets Act and several charges of corruption. And if convicted on all of these charges, the 76-year-old Suu Kyi faces decades in jail. And remember, Noel, this is a woman who spent the better part of two decades under house arrest by the military before it loosened its grip on power about a decade ago. And in the past six weeks or so, several senior members of her National League for Democracy have received lengthy sentences for corruption and sedition. And many analysts see that as a warning of what Suu Kyi should expect, that the military wants her gone, out of politics forever. Suu Kyi and her lawyers deny all the charges, which they say are politically motivated.

KING: There was, in February and in the weeks after, resistance to the military coup. Is that resistance still present?

SULLIVAN: It's not only present. It's growing. The armed resistance is growing, as well, to the extent that the military, according to many analysts, is now spread a little bit thin trying to contain it. The military is used to fighting ethnic minority militias along its borders. It's been doing it for decades. And we know what it's done to the Rohingya. But it's not used to fighting its own, the Bamar majority in Myanmar's heartland. And that's some of what they face now. And nine months in, the civil disobedience campaign is continuing. The armed resistance is growing. And with all this chaos, Myanmar's people have seen their economic and living conditions revert back to what they were 20 years ago, according to the U.N. And that worries independent Myanmar analyst David Mathieson.

DAVID MATHIESON: If you have the economic and living conditions of 20 years ago, plus new patterns of violence, urban violence in which there are targeted assassinations, bombings and other things, that's a collision towards a societal breakdown that I think Myanmar's just never experienced.

SULLIVAN: Add to that Myanmar's halting response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the situation is even more bleak.

KING: Yeah, you hear the word societal breakdown, and that's certainly a nerve-wracking thought. Is there any sign that the military or the opposition wants to compromise here?

SULLIVAN: Not a lot. The level of hatred for the military right now is very, very high. And civilians are still finding their way to jungle camps to learn how to fight from some of the ethnic minority militias who are practiced at it. And the military continues its efforts to wipe out the resistance - burning villages, killing people, detaining them. It shows no sign of easing up at all.

KING: Reporter Michael Sullivan in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Thank you, Michael.

SULLIVAN: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF PORTICO QUARTET'S "DOUBLE SPACE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Noel King is a host of Morning Edition and Up First.
Michael Sullivan is NPR's Senior Asia Correspondent. He moved to Hanoi to open NPR's Southeast Asia Bureau in 2003. Before that, he spent six years as NPR's South Asia correspondent based in but seldom seen in New Delhi.
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