At least 18 killed in the bloodiest day of Myanmar anti-coup protests

Aung San Suu Kyi seen in public for first time since military coup as more charges added

Despite the fact she has been under house arrest since 1 February, authorities add more serious charge of inciting unrest to case against democratically-elected leader

Mayank Aggarwal@journomayank
Monday 01 March 2021 15:36
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Aung San Suu Kyi was seen in public on Monday for the first time since Myanmar’s 1 February military coup, as she was summoned to attend a court hearing in the capital Naypyidaw via video conferencing.

It was also the first time that her lawyers had seen the Nobel peace prize winner since her initial detention when she was charged with illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios and breaching coronavirus protocols. One of her lawyers said afterwards that the 75-year-old appeared to be in good health.

During the hearing, her lawyer said, the authorities added two more charges – one under a section of the colonial-era penal code that prohibits the publication of information that may “cause fear or alarm” and the other under a telecommunications law stipulating licences for equipment, reported the Reuters news agency.

Her lawyer Min Min Soe said that she "saw A May on the video”, using an affectionate term meaning "mother" to refer to Ms Suu Kyi. “She asked to meet her lawyer.”

Monday’s hearing came a day after the deadliest violence since the coup, with the UN reporting that at least 18 protesters were killed as the police opened fire with live rounds and tear gas. The immediate release of Ms Suu Kyi and other senior figures of her party is one of the key demands made by demonstrators.

Pressure on the military to release Ms Suu Kyi has also come from international bodies, neighbouring countries and major powers around the world. The next hearing in her case was scheduled for 15 March.

On Monday,  Singapore’s foreign minister asked Myanmar to pursue long-term peaceful political solutions and get back to the path of “democratic transition”.

"We believe this can only begin if president Win Myint, and state counsellor and foreign minister Aung San Suu Kyi, and the other political detainees are immediately released," said Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

He also joined the international voices calling on Myanmar’s military to stop the use of lethal force on civilians following Sunday’s crackdown, in which hundreds were also arrested.

Dr Balakrishnan announced that on Tuesday, a special meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers will be convened via videoconference to listen to a representative of the Myanmar military authorities.

The violent crackdown and deaths on Sunday failed to scare protesters away from returning to the streets, where they were again out in large numbers on Monday.

Many issued messages of defiance in spite of the bloodshed, as police once more opened fire with tear gas and stun grenades in a bid to disperse them.

The police later combed through side streets firing rubber bullets and at least one person was hurt, according to local media reports.

Tom Andrews, a UN special rapporteur, said it was clear the junta’s assault would continue and called on the international community to ratchet up its response, proposing a global arms embargo, more sanctions on those behind the coup and on military businesses and a UN security council referral to the International Criminal Court.

Additional reporting by agencies

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