“As a child Aung San Suu Kyi was a celebrated heroine in my family home and Myanmar, an authoritarian regime determined to squash democracy. For a few years there was hope, although not for the Rohinghya community (thanks to Min Aung Hlaing), until the military coup of 2021,” says Index on Censorship CEO Ruth Anderson.
In February 2021 Min Aung Hlaing seized power – declaring himself commander-in-chief of Myanmar and consolidating all political power into the State Administration Council – a body which he also chairs. He has since sought to quash all dissent. Challenge is not tolerated, politicians have been arrested and imprisoned on spurious charges. Since the coup 2,530 civilians have been killed by the military, 13,000 people remain in detention and 128 political prisoners have been sentenced to death, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
In a series of court cases since the military coup, former leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi has now been sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment.
“These acts alone would warrant his crown as Tyrant of the Year but when you also consider his personal treatment of the Rohingya community then it’s difficult to see how anyone else qualifies for the title,” says Anderson. “Even before the coup Min Aung Hlaing was accused of acts of genocide against the Rohinghya minority – over one million Rohingya have been forced to flee Myanmar, and available data suggests that over 24,000 Rohingya have been systematically murdered by the state, over 18,000 women and girls raped and 36,000 thrown into fires. All by direct order of Min Aung Hlaing. The UN has declared that he should be tried for war crimes at the Hague. This man is a tyrant by every definition.”