Aung San Suu Kyi is seen for the first time since Myanmar coup as she appears in court a day after 18 people are killed on deadliest day of protests
- Aung San Suu Kyi was seen by her lawyer for the first time since February 1 coup
- She faces various charges including illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios
- Protests have continued since then with at least 18 people killed on Sunday
Aung San Suu Kyi was seen for the first time since last month’s coup in Myanmar today as she faced court amid an escalating military crackdown in the country.
The deposed pro-democracy leader, who was arrested during the generals’ February 1 takeover, appeared in court by video-link on Monday facing a series of charges including two new counts filed today.
The 75-year-old was not seen by the wider public but appeared healthy during the court proceedings, lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said.
But two new charges of violating communications laws and inciting public unrest were filed against her today in addition to the walkie-talkie count and another charge of breaching coronavirus rules.
It came amid an escalation of force by the military junta which led to at least 18 people being killed on Sunday in the deadliest day of unrest since the coup.
Troops and police fired live bullets at demonstrators in cities across Myanmar, the UN said, after protesters again took to the streets despite the crackdown.
Aung San Suu Kyi, pictured last year when she was Myanmar’s democratically-elected state counsellor, was seen today for the first time since being arrested in the February 1 coup
Protesters run from tear gas today in Yangon as unrest continued on the streets of Myanmar despite an escalation of force by the military junta
Suu Kyi has reportedly been kept under house arrest in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s isolated capital city which was built by the military during a previous dictatorship.
She had been detained in the city before dawn on the day of the coup, and had not been since in public since.
Suu Kyi was initially charged with illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios. Later, a charge of violating a natural disaster law by breaching coronavirus protocols was added – charges widely seen by the international community as frivolous.
On Monday, a charge was added under a colonial-era penal code prohibiting the publication of information that may ’cause fear or alarm’ or disrupt ‘public tranquillity’.
Monday’s court proceedings were preliminary matters in the case, including with Khin Maung Zaw seeking to formally represent her.
The next hearing will be on March 15.
The generals have justified their takeover, ending a decade-long democratic experiment, by making spurious allegations of fraud in last November’s elections.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won the election in a landslide.
Protesters run through the streets holding home-made shields as tear gas is fired by security forces during a demonstration in Yangon today
Riot police secure an area of Yangon after dispersing protesters in Yangon today as the military crackdown escalates following last month’s coup
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to streets regularly over the past month to oppose the coup.
While the military has steadily increased the type of force used to try to contain the uprising, beginning with tear gas and water cannons, this weekend’s violence saw the biggest escalation.
One person was shot while crouching behind rubbish bins and other makeshift shields, and had to be dragged away by others.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a reliable monitoring group, estimated that about 30 people had been killed by security forces since the coup on February 1.
On Monday, protests erupted again in multiple cities across the country, with demonstrators in Yangon using bamboo poles, sofas and tree branches to erect barricades across streets.
In one clash broadcast live on Facebook, unarmed protesters fled after a volley of shots were fired.
It was not immediately clear if the security forces had fired live rounds or rubber bullets.
Protesters put up makeshift barricades to obstruct security forces in Yangon today, with one demonstrator seemingly having a picture of Aung San Suu Kyi on the back of their clothes
Demonstrators wearing hard hats react after tear gas was fired during a protest in Yangon
Hundreds of people were also arrested over the weekend with many in Yangon taken to Insein Prison, where Myanmar’s leading democracy campaigners have served long jail terms under previous dictatorships.
More than 1,100 people have been arrested, charged, or sentenced since the coup, according to The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
One reporter was also shot with rubber bullets on the weekend while covering a protest in the central city of Pyay, their employer said.
Several journalists documenting Saturday’s assaults by security forces were detained, including an Associated Press photographer in Yangon.
‘We strongly condemn the escalating violence against protests in Myanmar and call on the military to immediately halt the use of force against peaceful protesters,’ Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN human rights office, said.
The United States has been one of the most outspoken critics of the junta, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken also reacted with horror after Sunday’s violence.
‘We condemn the Burmese security forces’ abhorrent violence against the people of Burma and will continue to promote accountability for those responsible,’ Blinken said, using the country’s old name.
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