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.
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