A month after being arrested and ousted by a military coup that plunged Myanmar into political, economic and diplomatic chaos, civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, State Councilor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, made his first public appearance on Monday. hearing by videoconference.
Suu Kyi, 75, appeared to be in good health when presented in court in the nation’s capital, Naypyitaw. “I saw Amay in the video, she looks healthy,” lawyer Min Min Soe told Reuters news agency, using an affectionate term meaning “mother” to refer to her client.
The hearing took place at a time of escalating violence in Myanmar. Since the week of the coup, thousands of demonstrators have gathered daily to protest the armed forces and demand the release of more than 1,100 people held by the military – data from the Myanmar Political Prisoners Protection Association .
This Sunday (28), at least 18 people died during the repression of demonstrations led by the army. The country’s security forces used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to disperse the acts. However, reports of the use of lethal ammunition against civilians continue to grow, awakening the country’s memory of the violent history of backlash against opponents.
In a speech broadcast on state television, the chief of the armed forces, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, said protest leaders and “instigators” would continue to be punished, as well as officials who refuse to work for the protest. new regime – strike movements are organized against the military, so that various services in the country are undermined.
The military is also investigating suspected financial crimes committed by the civilian government. According to the general, ousted authorities have misused money intended for Covid-19 prevention efforts and will be investigated for corruption.
Suu Kyi is one of the targets of the investigation. The reason for her detention was an obscure charge that she had illegally imported six walkie-talkies. Days later, she was also charged with an alleged violation of protocols to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
On Monday, according to his defense team, the civilian leader received two more formal criminal charges. The first for allegedly violating a telecommunications law which stipulates licenses for equipment.
The second, which refers to the penal code drafted even during the colonial days of Myanmar, incriminates him for having published information likely to “frighten or alarm”, which would be prohibited by law. Shortly before being arrested, and already fearing a possible coup, Suu Kyi issued a statement that was interpreted as calling for protests against the armed forces.
“The actions of the military are acts to put the country back under dictatorship. I ask people not to accept it, to respond and to protest unreservedly against the military coup,” the adviser wrote at the time. .
According to critics of the regime, the accusations have been falsified. Suu Kyi is due for a new hearing on March 15.
Meanwhile, the streets of the country’s main cities continue to be overrun by protesters, despite the violence of the crackdown. According to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office, police fired at crowds in several locations, killing 18 people.
The UN investigation already makes this Sunday (28) the most violent day since the start of the protests, but the number of victims could be even higher. According to a committee formed by lawmakers elected last year – and barred by the coup from taking office – there were 26 deaths in the protests, but the information could not be independently confirmed by international news agencies.
“We must continue the protest no matter what,” protester Thar Nge told Reuters shortly after he was the target of tear gas bombs which forced him to abandon a barricade erected on a street in Rangoon, the largest city in the country.
The coup d’état and the crackdown on dissidents that followed it continues to attract criticism from the international community. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States condemns “the abominable violence of Myanmar’s security forces and will continue to” promote the accountability of those responsible. “
“We encourage all countries to speak with one voice to support the will of the people,” Blinken wrote on Twitter.
Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau also made a similar statement and accused the Burmese military of using “terrible violence, including lethal force, against its own people”.
“No regime that uses force to suppress the democratically expressed desire of its people can be legitimized,” Garneau wrote.
“The people of Myanmar want their voices to be heard and to show great bravery in the face of this brutality,” said Dominic Raab, head of British diplomacy. “The international community must do everything in its power to end the violence, arbitrarily release the detainees and restore the elected government.”
Chancellors of the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – a group formed by Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam – are due to meet on Tuesday (2) to chart a course for democratic rule, Singapore Chancellor Vivian Balakrishnan said.
She joined the group of officials calling for an end to the use of lethal ammunition against protesters and for the freedom of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.
For Tom Andrews, a UN envoy to Myanmar, “what the world is seeing in Myanmar is scandalous and unacceptable. Words of condemnation are welcome, but insufficient.”
In a statement to member countries at the organization’s Security Council, he suggested practical actions such as an arms embargo, more sanctions against the military and commercial conglomerates that fund them and an appeal to the Criminal Court. international.
The military attempted to use alleged fraud charges in the election to justify its takeover. The military also added to the narrative the argument that the country’s electoral commission used the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to prevent a fair campaign. They also claim to have acted in accordance with the Constitution and that the majority of the population supports their conduct, accusing the demonstrators of incitement to violence.
The National League for Democracy (LND), Suu Kyi’s party, won 83% of the vote and won 396 of 476 seats in parliament in Myanmar’s latest elections, held in November last year. The legend, however, was prevented from taking over when the coup was implemented on the day the new legislature was inaugurated. The military-backed Solidarity and Development Union party won only 33 seats. We are a family business.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE POLITICAL HISTORY OF MYANMAR
1948: Former British colony, Myanmar becomes an independent country 1962: General Ne Win abolishes the 1947 Constitution and establishes a military regime 1974: Beginning of the first post-independence Constitution 1988: The violent repression of demonstrations against the military regime generates international criticism 1990: National League for Democracy (LND), opposed to the regime, wins the first multiparty election in 30 years and is prevented from taking power 1991: Aung San Suu Kyi of the LND wins the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize: US, EU impose sanctions on Myanmar for human rights violations and lack of respect for 2008 election results: Assembly approves new 2011 Constitution: Thein Sein, retired general , is elected president and the military regime is dissolved 2015: The LND obtains the majority in both chambers of Parliament 2016: Htin Kyaw is elected first civilian president since the coup d’Éta t of 1962 and Suu Kyi takes over as State Councilor, a position equivalent to that of Prime Minister 2018: Kyaw resigns and Win Myi nt assumes the 2020 presidency: in the legislative elections, the LND obtains 83% of the votes and defeats pro-military party 2021: army alleges electoral fraud, arrests LND leaders and seizes power with new coup