Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been seen for the first time since she was detained in a military coup, after she appeared in court via video link.
Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, appeared to be in “good health” and asked to see her legal team, her lawyers say.
Two new charges were announced against Aung San Suu Kyi, who was arrested after the February 1 coup.
Meanwhile, protesters took to the streets again despite February 28 seeing the deadliest day yet with 18 killed.
The deaths came as the military and police ramped up their response to demonstrations across the South East Asian nation over the weekend, firing into the crowds.
However, protesters defied the crackdown on March 1, demanding the elected government be restored and Aung San 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 November’s general elections, which saw the NLD win by a landslide.
It has provided no proof of these allegations – instead, it has replaced the Election Commission and promised fresh polls in a year.
Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested when the coup began and had not been seen in public until Monday’s hearing, when she appeared via video link at the court in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw.
It is unclear where she has been held over the past month, but some reports suggest she was detained at her home in Nay Pyi Taw before being moved to an undisclosed location.
Aung San Suu Kyi originally faced two charges of illegally importing walkie talkies and violating Myanmar’s natural disaster law, but a further two charges were added on March 1. She was accused of using illegal communication equipment and causing “fear and alarm”.
The initial charges carried sentences of up to three years in jail. It is not clear what punishment the new charges might carry, but she could reportedly be barred from running in future elections if convicted.
News agency Myanmar Now reported that ousted president Win Myint – a key ally of Aung San Suu Kyi – had also been charged for incitement under the penal code.
Her 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 community.
Protests erupted again in multiple cities across Myanmar. According to the AFP news agency, one clash saw unarmed protesters fleeing after a volley of shots were fired. It was unclear if live ammunition was used.
AFP reported that in Yangon, demonstrators were seen using makeshift items like bamboo poles, sofas and even tree branches to erect barricades across streets.
Tear gas and stun grenades were also used to disperse hundreds of protesters in Yangon, Reuters news agency reported.
At least 21 people have been killed since the unrest began last month.
On March 1, army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing gave a TV address during which he said protest leaders and “instigators” would be punished.
Myanmar’s military seized power after overthrowing the government and declared a state of emergency.
Myanmar’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been handed a second criminal charge on the day she appeared in court via video link.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who was earlier charged with possessing illegal walkie-talkies, is now also alleged to have violated Myanmar’s Natural Disaster Law.
It is not clear what the new charge, issued on February 16, relates to.
Myanmar’s military earlier repeated its promise to hold fresh elections and relinquish power as protests continue.
Anti-coup demonstrators are demanding the release of their elected leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, following the military coup on February 1.
In the military’s first news conference since toppling the government, spokesman Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun said the armed forces would not remain in power for long, and promised to “hand power back to the winning party” following a planned election.
However, he did not provide a date for the vote.
Speaking in Nay Pyi Taw on February 16, Zaw Min Tun also repeated the claim – without providing evidence – of fraud in last November’s election.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won a resounding victory in the poll. The military has claimed fraud as a justification for its coup.
The former leader made a brief virtual appearance at a court in the capital Nay Pyi Taw on February 16. She reportedly answered questions about legal arrangements and representation.
Her next court appearance is scheduled to take place on March 1.
Zaw Min Tun said that Aung San Suu Kyi had been confined to her home for her own safety, and that she was “comfortable and healthy”.
He used the news conference to accuse anti-coup protesters of violence and intimidation against the security forces.
A police officer had been wounded by “lawless actions” and had later died from his injuries, he said.
Protesters have clashed with security officers and there have been recent reports of police using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.
One protester remains in a critical condition after being shot in the head on February 9.
Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing, 19, was hurt while taking part in a protest – though it is not clear exactly what she was hit by. Rights groups say her wound is consistent with one from live ammunition.
Zaw Min Tun said some measures taken to control crowds of protesters were in response to bricks being thrown at police.
The UN has warned Myanmar’s military – which on February 15 announced penalties of up to 20 years in prison for those opposing the coup leaders – that there would be “severe consequences” for any brutal suppression of the ongoing anti-coup protests there.
Meanwhile, access to the internet in Myanmar was restored on February 16 after it had been cut off for a second night.
The junta has been regularly blocking the web to try to stifle dissent since the coup began.
On February 13, the military gave itself the power to make arrests, carry out searches and hold people for more than 24 hours without a court ruling, while telling journalists not to describe the military’s takeover as a coup.
Myanmar’s internet has been shut down as thousands of people joined the largest rally yet against February 1 coup.
A near-total internet blackout is in effect with connectivity falling to 16% of ordinary levels, said the monitoring group NetBlocks Internet Observatory.
In Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, crowds chanted “Military dictator, fail, fail; Democracy, win, win”.
Police with riot shields have blocked the main roads into the city center.
The internet shutdown happened hours after the military blocked access to Twitter and Instagram to stop people mobilizing for protests. Facebook had been banned a day earlier.
Many users had evaded the restrictions on social media by using virtual private networks (VPNs) but the more general blackout severely disrupted that.
Civil society organizations urged internet providers and mobile networks to challenge the blackout order, Reuters reported.
Human rights group Amnesty International called the shutdown “heinous and reckless” and warned it could put the people of Myanmar at risk of human rights violations.
The military has not commented. It temporarily blocked access to the internet following the coup.
On February 6, protesters – including factory workers and young students – called for the release of those detained by the army, including elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
They marched through the streets of Yangon as city buses sounded their horns in support.
Bystanders flashed the three-finger Hunger Games salute, which has become a symbol of defiance against authoritarianism, while residents clapped or banged pots and pans on their doorsteps.
Police with riot shields used barbed wire to block roads and water cannon were put in place in some areas as a precaution, but the demonstration reportedly remained peaceful, with no attempt by protesters to pass police lines.
Demonstrators gave police roses and bottles of drinking water, calling on them to support the people not the new regime.
Another demonstration took place in Myanmar’s second city, Mandalay.
Myanmar – also known as Burma – has remained mostly calm in the aftermath of the coup, and there were no immediate reports of violence after Saturday’s protests. More demonstrations were expected to be held later.
The military authorities are hunkered down in the capital, Nay Pyi Daw, and have so far avoided direct engagement with the protesters.
Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest, according to her lawyer. Police documents show she is accused of illegally importing and using communications equipment – walkie-talkies – at her home in the capital.
The coup took place as a new session of parliament was set to open, following November’s landslide election win by the NLD party.
Many Burmese watched the events unfold in real time on Facebook, which is the country’s primary source of information and news. But three days later, internet providers were ordered to block the platform for stability reasons.
Following the ban, thousands of users were active on Twitter and Instagram using hashtags to express their opposition to the takeover. By 22:00 local time on February 5 access to those platforms had also been denied.
There was no official word from the coup leaders but AFP reported it had seen an unverified ministry document that said the two social media sites were being used to “cause misunderstanding among the public”.
Several charges has been filed against Myanmar’s elected civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi following February 1 military coup.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been remanded in custody until February 15, police documents show.
The charges include breaching import and export laws, and possession of unlawful communication devices.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s whereabouts are still unclear, but it has been reported that she is being held at her residence in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw.
Deposed President Win Myint has also been charged, the documents show – in his case with violating rules banning gatherings during the Covid-19 pandemic. He has also been remanded in custody for two weeks.
Neither the president nor Aung San Suu Kyi have been heard from since the military seized power in the early hours of February 1.
The military coup, led by armed forces chief Min Aung Hlaing, has seen the installation of an 11-member junta which is ruling under a year-long state of emergency.
The military sought to justify its action by alleging fraud in last November’s elections, which Auung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won decisively.
The accusations are contained in a police document – called a First Initial Report – submitted to a court.
The document alleges that Aung San Suu Kyi illegally imported and used communications equipment – walkie-talkies – found at her home in Nay Pyi Taw.
She was remanded in custody “to question witnesses, request evidence and seek legal counsel after questioning the defendant”, the document says.
Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically elected leaders have been detained as the military seized power in the Asian country.
Troops are patrolling the streets and a night-time curfew is in force, with a one-year state of emergency declared.
President Joe Biden raised the threat of new sanctions, with the UN also condemning the coup.
The army alleges the recent landslide election win by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party was marred by fraud. She urged supporters to “protest against the coup”.
In a letter written in preparation for Suu Kyi’s impending detention, she said the military’s actions would put the country back under a dictatorship.
The military has already announced replacements for a number of ministers.
On the streets of Myanmar’s main city, Yangon, people said they felt their hard-fought battle for democracy had been lost.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by the armed forces until 2011, when democratic reforms led by Aung San Suu Kyi ended military rule.
Aung San Suu Kyi spent nearly 15 years in detention between 1989 and 2010. She was internationally hailed as a beacon of democracy and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
However, her international reputation suffered severely following an army crackdown on the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority. Former supporters accused Aung San Suu Kyi of refusing to condemn the military or acknowledge accounts of atrocities.
In the early hours of February 1, the army’s TV station said power had been handed over to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.
Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD) were arrested in a series of raids. It is not clear where they are being held.
No major violence has been reported. Soldiers blocked roads in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, and the main city, Yangon. International and domestic TV channels, including the state broadcaster, went off air. Internet and phone services were disrupted. Banks said they had been forced to close.
Later, the military announced that 24 ministers and deputies had been removed, and 11 replacements had been named, including in finance, health, the interior and foreign affairs.
A curfew is now reportedly in effect from 20:00 local time to 06:00.
The army takeover follows weeks of tensions between the armed forces and the government following parliamentary elections lost by the army-backed opposition.
The opposition had demanded a re-run of the election, raising allegations of widespread fraud that were not backed by the electoral commission.
Htin Kyaw has been sworn in as Myanmar’s new president in a joint session of parliament in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.
The 69-year-old is the first elected civilian leader in more than 50 years.
Htin Kyaw from the National League for Democracy (NLD) takes over from Thein Sein, who introduced wide-ranging reforms during his five years in power.
Although NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency, she has said she will rule by proxy.
The handover completes the transition that began after the NLD won a landslide win in elections in November 2015.
Htin Kyaw said he would be “faithful” to the people of Myanmar, as he took the oath of office.
Vice-presidents Henry Van Thio and Myint Swe, who lost to Htin Kyaw in the presidential vote earlier this month, were also sworn in, as were new cabinet ministers.
Most of the ministers belong to the NLD. The list includes Aung San Suu Kyi who will be in charge of foreign affairs, the president’s office, education, and energy and electric power.
However, the military is appointing its own nominees for three key ministries – defense, home affairs and border affairs.
In a brief speech, Htin Kyaw noted challenges ahead including the need for a nationwide ceasefire. The government has been engaged in armed conflicts with various ethnic groups for decades.
Htin Kyaw also spoke about the constitution complying with modern democratic values, in a nod to the NLD’s stated goal during the election campaign of changing the constitution.
Correspondents say this is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the NLD government’s relationship with the army, who have 25% of parliamentary seats. It means the army retains the power to veto any changes to the constitution, as that would require more than 75% of votes.
The constitution contains a controversial clause barring anyone with family members who have another nationality from becoming president – widely seen as aimed at preventing Aung San Suu Kyi from taking power, as her two sons are British.
Despite the restriction Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains hugely popular and prominent in Myanmar, has vowed to act “above the president”.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, has won Myanmar’s general election, officials say.
With more than 80% of contested seats now declared, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party has more than the two-thirds it needs to choose the president, ending decades of military-backed rule.
A quarter of seats are automatically held by the military, meaning it remains hugely influential.
Under the constitution Aung San Suu Kyi cannot become president herself.
Despite this, the election was seen as the first openly contested poll in Myanmar – also known as Burma – in 25 years.
By early Friday, the NLD needed two more votes to reach the threshold required for a majority.
Then at midday, the electoral commission said the party had taken 348 of the 664 seats in the two houses of parliament. This represents a two-thirds majority of the contested seats.
Votes are being counted and the final tally is not expected for several days.
The process of choosing Myanmar’s new president will begin in January, when parliament reconvenes.
Current President Thein Sein and the head of the military had already said they would respect the outcome and work with the new government.
They and the NLD are expected to being talks next week on the way forward.
About 30 million people were eligible to vote in the election – turnout was estimated at about 80%.
It was widely seen as a fair vote though there were reports of irregularities, and hundreds of thousands of people – including the Muslim Rohingya minority, who are not recognized as citizens – were denied voting rights.
The ruling military-backed Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) – which won the last, widely criticized election five years ago – has so far gained about 5% of seats contested.
Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has won her own seat after the country’s historic parliamentary election.
Aung San Suu Kyi has requested meetings with the military-backed leadership next week to discuss national reconciliation.
Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has taken a decisive lead in results from November 8 election.
With about 40% of seats declared, the NLD has taken nearly 90% of the vote, leaving the military-backed USDP party with about 5% of seats.
However, a quarter of seats are reserved for the military.
Aung Suu Kyi sent letters to President Thein Sein, the commander of the armed forces and the parliamentary speaker.
She has not declared victory yet, and is treading carefully, say correspondents – calling for meetings next week with the three most senior figures in the current government to discuss an orderly transfer of power.
“A peaceful implementation of the people’s desire, which they expressed via the November 8 election, is very important for the country’s dignity and people’s peace of mind,” she wrote in letters made public by the NLD, according to the Irrawaddy news website.
“So I want to discuss with you in the spirit of national reconciliation. So please arrange a time for the meeting that would be convenient for you next week.”
In a response on his Facebook page, Information Minister Ye Htut reiterated that the government would respect the results of the poll, but said the requested meeting would only take place after the election commission had done its work, said AP news agency.
Aung Suu Kyi earlier retained her own seat and will return as lawmaker for her Kawhmu constituency in Rangoon – though she leads the NLD she is barred by the constitution from being president.
However, she has said “that won’t stop me from making all the decisions”.
The election commission is slowly releasing results.
The USDP, which has been in power in Myanmar since 2011, has taken 10 of the 491 seats being contested in both houses of parliament, compared to 163 by the NLD.
A quarter of the 664 parliamentary seats are set aside for the army. For the NLD to have the winning majority and be able to select the president, it will need at least two-thirds of the remaining seats – or 329.
About 30 million people were eligible to vote in last week’s election in Myanmar. Turnout was estimated at about 80%.
Hundreds of thousands of people – including the Muslim Rohingya minority, who are not recognized as citizens – were denied voting rights.
Myanmar’s government has signed on October 15 what it says is a nationwide ceasefire deal with eight armed ethnic groups.
The signing ceremony in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw, was the culmination of two years of peace talks.
However, the most active rebel groups – seven of the 15 groups involved in negotiations – stayed out of the deal.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been engaged in armed conflict with various groups seeking greater autonomy since independence from the British in 1948.
The government hopes today’s deal will be the first step on a path to a lasting political settlement.
Among the groups which have not signed are the largest armed group, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), whose Kachin Independence Army (KIA) controls large areas of north-eastern Kachin state and regularly clashes with the Burmese army.
Political discussions are now due to begin within months on the structure of a new, and likely more federal, system of government.
However, there are still concerns that peace with the groups signing the agreement could be short lived, if the Burmese army ignores the ceasefire, as it has with others.
Earlier this week, all of the groups signing were removed from the government’s list of “unlawful associations”, a step towards bringing them into mainstream politics.
The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Peace Council, the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), the Chin National Front (CNF), the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) were removed from the list on October 13.
They joined three other armed groups removed on October 12: the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), and the Karen National Union (KNU) – Myanmar’s oldest armed group, which has been fighting for nearly seven decades.
The seven groups which have not signed are not far behind, and have agreed a draft deal, negotiators said.
Many of Myanmar’s ethnic minority groups have long demanded greater autonomy, or outright independence, from central government, which is dominated by the Burmese majority.
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has previously urged rebel groups to focus more on a lasting deal than a quick one, was not at the signing ceremony.
State media had reported that representatives from the European Union, India, China, Japan, and the United Nations would be at the signing.
Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to begin her first visit to China on June 10, at a time of tension between the two countries.
Aung San Suu Kyi will meet President Xi Jinping and PM Li Keqiang, but no other details have been provided.
Relations between Myanmar (also known as Burma) and China have cooled in recent years, partly because of violence near their mutual border.
Myanmar has been fighting rebels in its eastern Kokang region, which borders China’s Yunnan province.
China is concerned about violence spilling over the border. At least five people in Yunnan died in March when an aircraft from Myanmar dropped a bomb on a sugar cane field.
China sent patrols to the border in response.
The Chinese government department handling Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit would not be making any details of the trip public nor inviting media, other than state media, to any events.
This visit is meant to improve ties between Myanmar’s opposition leader and China but she will be closely watched for various issues.
Many are already calling on Aung San Suu Kyi to recognize her similarities to fellow Nobel Peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo during her visit.
Chinese dissident and writer Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power”.
While Myanmar’s military junta was under Western sanctions and Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest, China remained a loyal ally.
Since reforms were introduced in 2011, the government of President Thein Sein has allied itself closely with the US, although China continues to help develop major infrastructure projects in Myanmar.
Given the possibility that Aung San Suu Kyi’s party will do well in upcoming elections, Beijing is determined to put pragmatism first and build a relationship with a woman whose politics it deplores, she adds.
As head of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to play a key role in the presidential elections this November.
Aung San Suu Kyi is unlikely to run for president, however, as a clause in the constitution blocks her from standing because her husband and children are foreign citizens.
President Barack Obama has met Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon.
At a news briefing with the US president, Aung San Suu Kyi has said constitutional rules which bar her from running for president because her sons are half British are “unfair, unjust and undemocratic”.
She said the reform process in the once military-ruled nation had hit a “bumpy patch”.
Aung San Suu Kyi said it could be brought on track with international help.
President Barack Obama said the reforms were “by no means complete or irreversible”.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, moved from military to civilian rule in 2010 and is governed by a military-backed civilian administration.
Under Thein Sein, many political prisoners have been freed and media restrictions eased. The pro-democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent years under house arrest, has rejoined the political fold and holds a small block of seats in parliament.
President Barack Obama has met Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon
Critics have warned that reforms have stalled in recent months, as all eyes turn to 2015 when the next general election will be held.
A clause in the new constitution states that anyone whose spouse or children are foreign citizens cannot run for the top job. Aung San Suu Kyi’s late husband was British and her two sons are British citizens.
Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters outside her home: “I always warn against over-optimism, because that could lead to complacency.
“Our reform process is going through a bumpy patch, but this bumpy patch is something we can negotiate with commitment, with help and understanding from our friends around the world.
“What we need is a healthy balance of optimism and pessimism.”
Barack Obama was in the Burmese capital, Nay Pyi Taw, on November 13 for an Asian summit where he held talks with President Thein Sein.
He said the process of reform was “by no means complete or irreversible” and added that the US “recognizes the challenges ahead and cannot be complacent”.
“I don’t understand a provision that would bar someone from running for president because of who their children are. That doesn’t make much sense to me,” he said.
Aung San Suu Kyi said the Burmese people supported the opposition’s call to amend the clause, but added: “I don’t think it’s because they want me to be president, but because they recognize it’s unfair, unjust and undemocratic.”
Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a landslide victory in the by-elections in 2012. It did not contest the November 2010 general election because of laws it said were unfair.
Barack Obama said he and Aung San Suu Kyi had discussed ways of bolstering Myanmar’s transition.
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