Myanmar coup: Aung San Suu Kyi appears in court to face fresh charges

Author : jibenkstrateginews
Publish Date : 2021-03-01 08:03:44


Myanmar coup: Aung San Suu Kyi appears in court to face fresh charges

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi has been seen by her lawyers for the first time since she was detained during a military coup a month ago.

Ms Suu Kyi, who appeared in court via video link, appeared to be in "good health" and asked to see her legal team, her lawyers said.

She has been held in an undisclosed location since the coup on 1 February.

The country has been riven with unrest since, with 18 people dying during pro-democracy protests on Sunday.

The deaths came as the military and police ramped up its response to the protests over the weekend, firing into the crowds.

However, protesters were once again out in force on Monday, demanding the elected government be restored and Ms Suu Kyi and other leaders of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), be released from detention.

The military says it seized power because of alleged fraud in a previous election, which saw the NLD win by a landslide. The military has provided no proof.

Where has Ms Suu Kyi been?
Ms Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest on 1 February and had not been seen in public until today's hearing, when she appeared via video link at the court in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

Ms Suu Kyi originally faced two charges of illegally importing walkie talkies and violating Myanmar's natural disaster law, but further charges were added on Monday, including breaching Covid-19 restrictions during the election campaign and for causing "fear and alarm".

The initial charges carried sentences of up to three years in jail. It is not clear what punishment the new charge might carry. The case has been adjourned until 15 March.

Myanmar Now reported on Monday that ousted president Win Myint - a key ally of Ms Suu Kyi - has also been charged for incitement under 505b of the penal code.

Ms Suu Kyi's popularity has soared in Myanmar since her arrest, but her international reputation still remains tarnished by allegations that she turned a blind eye to ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority Rohingya.

What is happening in Myanmar?
Myanmar's military seized power on 1 February, declaring a state of emergency and handing all power over to General Min Aung Hlaing.

Just days later, the civil disobedience movement began to emerge - professionals who are refusing to return to work in protest.

The movement quickly started to gain momentum and it wasn't long before hundreds of thousands of people began taking part in street protests.

Protests in recent days has seen an escalation of violence between police officers and civilians - with at least 18 people killed in a protest over the weekend.

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Myanmar in profile
Myanmar, also known as Burma, became independent from Britain in 1948. For much of its modern history it has been under military rule
Restrictions began loosening from 2010 onwards, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government led by veteran opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the following year
In 2017, militants from the Rohingya ethnic group attacked police posts, and Myanmar's army and local Buddhist mobs responded with a deadly crackdown, reportedly killing thousands of Rohingya. More than half a million Rohingya fled across the border into Bangladesh, and the UN later called it a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing"

A third charge has been announced against Aung San Suu Kyi, according to her lawyer, as Myanmar’s ousted leader appeared before court via video link.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who has not been seen in public since she was detained by the military one month ago, appeared healthy, though had perhaps lost weight, her lawyer said.

It was announced she would face a fresh charge under the country’s colonial-era penal code, which prohibits publishing information that may “cause fear or alarm” or disrupt “public tranquillity”, the lawyer, Min Min Soe, said. The next hearing is scheduled for 15 March.

Aung San Suu Kyi was already accused of possession of illegally imported walkie-talkies, and of violating the Natural Disaster Management Law by breaching coronavirus restrictions. If convicted, she may be prevented from running in future elections, which the military has said will be held in a year’s time.

The court hearing on Monday followed a day of violence across Myanmar on Sunday, when security forces used lethal force on peaceful protesters, firing live ammunition at crowds in several towns and cities. Stun grenades, rubber bullets and teargas were also deployed by police, backed up by military troops.

At least 18 people were killed in the violence, according to UN estimates, and 30 injured. Hundreds of people were arrested over the weekend, including many medics.

Several governments expressed outrage at the killings, including the US and UK, while the UN secretary general, António Guterres, urged the international community to “send a clear signal to the military that it must respect the will of the people of Myanmar as expressed through the election and stop the repression”.

Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said it was clear the junta would continue its assault on the people, and that the international community should ratchet up its response. “Without concerted, coordinated international action to support the people of Myanmar in their time of greatest need, the nightmare that is unfolding before our eyes will get worse,” he said.

He proposed a global arms embargo, targeted sanctions from more countries on those behind the coup and on the military’s businesses, and a UN security council referral to the international criminal court.

“Words of condemnation are welcome but insufficient. We must act,” Andrews said in a statement.

On Monday morning, police in the main city of Yangon used stun grenades and teargas to disperse protesters who had turned out despite the risk of further lethal force.

Crowds also took to the streets in other towns across the country, including in the central town of Bagan, while a small gathering took place in the north-eastern town of Lashio. In the north-western town of Kale, protesters carried pictures of Suu Kyi and shouted “democracy, our cause, our cause”.

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Mass protests have been held for weeks across Myanmar after the military seized control of the country in a coup on 1 February, detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other politicians from her party, the National League for Democracy.

The NLD won a landslide election victory last year, but the army has refused to accept the results and has alleged widespread voter fraud – a claim that is not unsubstantiated.

The court hearing on Monday followed a day of violence across Myanmar on Sunday, when security forces used lethal force on peaceful protesters, firing live ammunition at crowds in several towns and cities. Stun grenades, rubber bullets and teargas were also deployed by police, backed up by military troops.

At least 18 people were killed in the violence, according to UN estimates, and 30 injured. Hundreds of people were arrested over the weekend, including many medics.

Several governments expressed outrage at the killings, including the US and UK, while the UN secretary general, António Guterres, urged the international community to “send a clear signal to the military that it must respect the will of the people of Myanmar as expressed through the election and stop the repression”.

Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said it was clear the junta would continue its assault on the people, and that the international community should ratchet up its response. “Without concerted, coordinated international action to support the people of Myanmar in their time of greatest need, the nightmare that is unfolding before our eyes will get worse,” he said.

He proposed a global arms embargo, targeted sanctions from more countries on those behind the coup and on the military’s businesses, and a UN security council referral to the international criminal court.

“Words of condemnation are welcome but insufficient. We must act,” Andrews said in a statement.

On Monday morning, police in the main city of Yangon used stun grenades and teargas to disperse protesters who had turned out despite the risk of further lethal force.

Crowds also took to the streets in other towns across the country, including in the central town of Bagan, while a small gathering took place in the north-eastern town of Lashio. In the north-western town of Kale, protesters carried pictures of Suu Kyi and shouted “democracy, our cause, our cause”.

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