Myanmar coup: Aung San Suu Kyi appears in court to face fresh chargeson March 1, 2021 at 7:52 am

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Ms Suu Kyi was told she faces fresh charges a month after she was detained during a military coup.

Aung San Suu Kyi

image copyrightEPA

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.

Protesters took to the streets again on Monday, despite Sunday seeing the deadliest day yet with 18 killed.

The deaths came as the military and police ramped up its response to demonstrations across the South East Asian nation 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 November’s general elections, which saw the NLD win by a landslide.

It has provided no proof of these allegations although it has replaced the Election Commission and promised fresh polls in a year.

Ms Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest when the coup began 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 charges 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 the penal code.

Protester

image copyrightEPA

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 community.

Protests have erupted again in multiple cities across the country.

According to news agency AFP, one clash saw unarmed protesters fleeing after a volley of shots were fired. It is unclear if these were live rounds or rubber bullets.

The agency added that in Yangon, demonstrators were seen using makeshift items like bamboo poles, sofas and even tree branches to erect barricades across streets.

Photos also showed tear gas being used against protesters.

1 March protest in Myanmar's Yangon

image copyrightGetty Images

1 March protest in Myanmar's Yangon

image copyrightGetty Images

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 have 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, 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”
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