Suu Kyi in court 1st time since military coup (Ld)
Kolkata, March 1 (IANS) Myanmar’s tallest leader Aung San Suu Kyi, denied a second tenure in power by a military takeover on February 1, faced court on Monday through a video link, her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said.
Zaw told this writer he had seen his client for the first time since a military coup exactly one month ago, after which the country has plunged into huge and ceaseless protests.
Suu Kyi’s court appearance, in a minor case over alleged possession of foreign-made walky-talkies , came on a day when protestors again hit the streets, despite a bloody Sunday, when at least 19 people died in firing by security forces across Myanmar.
At least 30 were injured and 10 missing during the mayhem unleashed by the forces in Yangon, Mandalay, Dawei, Myitkina and several other cities.
The UN Human Rights office confirmed 18 deaths but the Democratic Voice of Burma provided details of 19 people who died in the firings.
Suu Kyi, 75, appeared fit and in good health during Monday’s court appearance, her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw, said by telephone during a break in proceedings.
Suu Kyi was detained in Naypyidaw, the nation’s capital, before dawn on the day of the coup, and had not been since in public since.
She has reportedly been kept under house arrest in Naypyidaw.
The military has justified its takeover by making unfounded allegations of widespread fraud in last November’s national elections, claiming the presence of 8.6 million fraudulent voters in the electoral rolls.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won the election in a landslide victory, with 396 seats of the total 476 contested.
She then sought to form a grand coalition with regional ethnic partners who had won 44 seats.
That unnerved the military by brightening prospects of a complete overhaul of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution that gives the men in uniform control over three ministries of Home, Defence and Border Affairs and 25 per cent seats in the parliament.
The generals have hit Suu Kyi with two charges the international community widely regards as frivolous — relating to importing walkie talkies and staging a campaign rally during the pandemic.
Monday’s court proceedings were preliminary attempts to start trial in the case, that could lead to prison sentences of two to three years, her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said.
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.
Hundreds of people were also arrested over the weekend with many in Yangon taken to Insein Prison.
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.