Myanmar’s jailed former leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is ailing but denied care outside prison

Aung San Suu Kyi wearing a protective mask
Myanmar’s then-leader Aung San Suu Kyi in January 2021.
(Aung Shine Oo / Associated Press)

Myanmar’s imprisoned former leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is suffering from symptoms of low blood pressure including dizziness and loss of appetite, but has been denied treatment at qualified facilities outside the prison system, a medical worker said Thursday.

Suu Kyi, 78, who was arrested in February 2021 when the army seized power from her elected government, fell ill late last month, said the medical worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being punished by the military authorities.

Separately, a military officer who also insisted on anonymity confirmed a report by the BBC’s Myanmar-language service that Suu Kyi was suffering a severe toothache that left her unable to eat and caused vomiting. But the ruling military council’s spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, said Suu Kyi was in good health, the report said.


Myanmar’s military-led government has reduced the prison sentences of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a clemency connected to a religious holiday.

Aug. 1, 2023

The BBC said Suu Kyi’s son Kim Aris, who lives in Britain, responded to the report with a text saying, “To deny a sick prisoner access to recommended medical care is callous and cruel.”

Phone calls by the AP to Myanmar’s prison department for comment went unanswered.

Suu Kyi is serving a combined 27-year sentence in Myanmar, also known as Burma, after being convicted of a string of criminal charges that her supporters and independent analysts say were concocted to discredit her and legitimize the military’s seizure of power.

She initially received a total sentence of 33 years, but Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the military government, granted her clemency in five cases and cut her sentence by six years as part of a broader amnesty for more than 7,000 prisoners to mark a Buddhist holiday in August.

The sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi is a blow to Myanmar’s democratic aspirations, but worldwide fervor over her fate had already faded.

Dec. 6, 2021

Suu Kyi receives full-time medical care from a doctor assigned to the main prison in the capital, Naypyidaw, whose duties included taking her blood pressure at least three times a day when she fell ill last month, the medical worker said.

She also receives a monthly medical checkup from more senior physicians from the military hospital in Naypyidaw.

Not only are details about Suu Kyi’s health unclear, but even her exact whereabouts are not publicly known.


There were reports in late July that Suu Kyi might be transferred from the Naypyidaw prison to house arrest as part of the clemency action, but the military authorities have not confirmed that.

Myanmar’s civilian leader made a Faustian bargain with the army for political gain, critics say. It ended with her detention in Monday’s coup.

Feb. 1, 2021

Suu Kyi’s lawyers have not been able to meet with her this year, said a legal official who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to release information about her cases. Her lawyers have been forbidden to reveal information about her by a gag order issued in late 2021.

They have applied five times for permission to meet with Suu Kyi since they last saw her in December but have not received any response, the legal official said.

The official said her legal team filed arguments to the Supreme Court on Tuesday asking it to accept six special appeals to further reduce her sentences. The six cases include allegations of abuse of authority in renting parcels of land and property in Naypyidaw and Yangon, the country’s biggest city, at below-market prices for a foundation named after her mother that she chaired.

Appeals of Suu Kyi’s convictions are still being processed on charges including election fraud, breaching the official secrets acts and six other corruption allegations, legal officials have said.