Myanmar’s Suu Kyi being used as ‘human shield’, son fears

By Thomson Reuters Apr 18, 2024 | 11:10 AM

By Hannah Ellison

LONDON (Reuters) – Myanmar’s detained former leader and Aung San Suu Kyi was moved from prison to house arrest possibly to be used by the Southeast Asian nation’s ruling junta as a human shield in its conflict with resistance fighters, her son said on Thursday.

Suu Kyi has been detained by the Myanmar military since it overthrew her government in a 2021 coup. The 78-year-old Nobel laureate was held under house arrest for a total of 15 years under a previous junta.

A spokesperson for the junta said this week that Suu Kyi had been moved to house arrest as a step to protect her and other elderly prisoners from the hot weather. It was not clear where exactly she had been moved to.

Her son, Kim Aris, who lives in London, told Reuters that he had heard Suu Kyi was suffering from the heat, but that the junta’s official reason for moving her was “not very likely”.

“I think they have their own reasons for moving her, namely that they’d like to use her as a human shield or a bargaining chip,” Aris said in an interview.

“As the fighting’s getting closer and closer to the military strongholds, I think they may just want to keep her close to use as a human shield, or they might like to negotiate with the resistance forces on her release, trying to gain some sort of, you know, footing for the future,” he said.

Anger against the junta in Myanmar has turned into a nationwide armed resistance movement that is now increasingly operating in coordination with established ethnic rebel groups to challenge the military across large parts of the country.

World leaders and pro-democracy activists have repeatedly called for Suu Kyi’s release. She faces 27 years in prison for crimes ranging from treason and bribery to violations of the telecommunications law, charges she denies.

(Writing by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)