As we just mentioned last week, Aung San Suu Kyi was to be sentenced August 11th. A Myanmar court convicted Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi today, of violating her house arrest by allowing an uninvited American to stay at her home. The head of the military-ruled country ordered the democracy leader to serve an 18-month sentence under house arrest.
The 64-year-old opposition leader has already spent 14 of the last 20 years in detention, mostly under house arrest, and the extension will remove her from the political scene when the junta stages elections next year.
The ruling — which also convicted the American, John Yettaw, and sentenced him to seven years with hard labor — drew immediate criticism from world leaders, with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling it "monstrous."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Suu Kyi should never have been put on trial. French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the European Union to quickly adopt new sanctions, calling the verdict "brutal and unjust."
But Suu Kyi’s term was less severe than the maximum sentence she faced — five years in prison — and shorter than the one the court initially ordered Tuesday — three years with hard labor.
Than Shwe’s order, signed Monday, likewise reduced the sentences of Suu Kyi’s two female house companions, Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma, to 18 months. Both are members of her political party.
The junta leader said he commuted the sentences to "maintain community peace and stability" and because Suu Kyi was the daughter of Aung San, a revered hero who won Myanmar’s independence from Britain.
It seemed likely it was in response to intense international pressure, including a call for Suu Kyi’s release from the United Nations that was backed by China, Myanmar’s key ally and benefactor.