Show trials continue in Myanmar – Politics


Like many beautiful people, Thaw Nandar Aung, 23, can be seen alive on Instagram. The “Miss Grand Myanmar” of the year 2020 poses there with cosmetic products, in a spa or club for her more than 100,000 followers. In between, however, messages about executions by the junta appear in their posts Myanmar on, or pictures of the former head of government Aung San Suu Kyi on a state visit.

At the “Miss Grand International” pageant in Bangkok, a month after the seizure of power by the military in Myanmar on February 1, 2021, Thaw Nandar Aung, who also calls herself Han Lay, took the opportunity to express her despair at the coup. Since then she has lived in Thailand. Last week she was detained at Bangkok airport for several days on her way back from a short trip to Vietnam. Thai immigration officials refused her entry on the grounds that she was using invalid travel documents.

She herself wrote on Twitter, “Myanmar police are at Suvarnambhumi Airport and want to speak to me. I call on the Thai authorities to help me. I refuse to speak with the Myanmar police and appeal my human rights.” The police and military work closely together in Myanmar, and soldiers and police officers bloodily crushed all protests last year. They continue to hunt down demonstrators, lock them up, torture and kill them. Anyone who works with the shadow government, the “National Unity Government”, is targeted. Youth groups, activists, politicians, celebrities and those active on social media. Thaw Nandar Aung was right to be afraid.

Did the Thai government, which also emerged from a junta, want to help their brothers-in-arms in Myanmar? In any case, Thaw Nandar Aung was able to travel to Canada on Wednesday, where she was granted asylum. She won’t be able to go home as long as the junta is in power. “Since I landed here I feel safe and my worries are gone,” she told Reuters by phone from Toronto International Airport.

Three years in prison for Australian adviser

The junta uses canceled passports as a means of threats. But even those who stayed in the country remain at the mercy of the generals. Former Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to another three years in prison on Thursday. The charges are apparently intended to prevent the politician from ever again intervening in politics and challenging the power of the military. She has already been sentenced to at least 23 years in prison in several cases and denies all allegations.

The Australian Sean Turnell was also sentenced to three years in prison for “breaching a secrecy law”. The economics professor was an advisor to Aung San Suu Kyi and was arrested a few days after the coup. Since then there has been no direct contact with him, the show trials are held behind closed doors. The sentencing on Thursday took place in a closed court in the capital, Naypyidaw.

The defendants’ exact alleged offense under the State Secrets Act remained unclear, although a Reuters agency source said Turnell’s offense “related to allegations that he was in possession of government documents.” Australian consular officials who were supposed to help Turnell were denied access to the court. “The Australian government has always denied the allegations against Professor Turnell,” said Foreign Minister Penny Wong, calling for his immediate release.



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