Australia ‘He just disappeared': Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyer to help Australia free academic
More Myanmar protests planned as Suu Kyi's lawyer dismisses bribery claims
More Myanmar protests planned as Suu Kyi's lawyer dismisses bribery claimsThe Southeast Asian country has been in crisis since the army ousted Suu Kyi’s elected government in a Feb. 1 coup, detained her and officials of her National League for Democracy party and set up a ruling junta of generals.
The lawyer for Myanmar's deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi is offering to assist Australian officials in their efforts to free economist Sean Turnell as he fights for a fair trial for his world famous client, maintaining she is the "one hope for our country" to return to a form of democracy.
Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age from the capital Naypyidaw, Khin Maung Zaw said he was yet to see Suu Kyi since she was arrested the morning the military seized power in a coup on February 1.
Burma. Two new indictments against Aung San Suu Kyi
© STR, AFP Under house arrest since the coup of February 1, Aung San Suu Kyi, here in file photo, reappeared only on Monday March 1, by videoconference for new charges. Twenty dead this weekend, two new indictments against Aung San Suu Kyi ... A month after the coup, the Burmese soldiers are raising their voice and the population is not giving up. Aung San Suu Kyi, head of the Burmese government, was deposed on February 1 by an army coup, the Tatmadaw, and then placed under house arrest.
Myanmar has descended into chaos since then, with security forces cracking down violently against nationwide protests and strikes, leaving more than 50 people dead, including 38 on Wednesday, according to the United Nations.
Khin Maung Zaw is representing both Suu Kyi and ousted president Win Myint, who have been under house arrest since the military led by General Min Aung Hlaing took control five weeks ago.
Suu Kyi, whose National League of Democracy party won 82 per cent of seats in last November's election, is facing four charges including illegal importation of six walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions and inciting public unrest.
Khin Maung Zaw said the 75-year-old remained under house arrest in Naypyidaw but the whereabouts of Turnell, an Australian academic who was Suu Kyi's economic adviser, is still unclear more than a month after he was confronted by police at his Yangon hotel on February 6.
Myanmar has killed at least 7 during its latest lethal crackdown on protesters
Security forces are firing live ammunition on sit-ins.The casualties from the protests — which likely are underreported, experts say — indicate that the country’s military government is not backing down from using lethal force against pro-democracy protesters, despite intensifying condemnations from the international community.
While Turnell was 10 days ago permitted to talk on the phone to his wife, Sydney economics lecturer Ha Vu, Australian embassy officials have not been told what charges, if any, he faces as the only named foreign national among the more than 1700 detained in the coup.
"He was not officially charged in any court. He just disappeared," said Khin Maung Zaw, who offered to help Australian officials urging Turnell's release in Myanmar and take the matter to the Supreme Court.
"The Australian embassy has made contact with one lawyer who is an acquaintance of mine. I will make some inquiries without charge. I will do it on pro bono basis."
The junta has, however, demonstrated scant regard for judicial process in denying Khin Maung Zaw access to documents taken from Suu Kyi's residence and witness lists, purportedly part of the case against her.
When she appeared by video link in court last Monday he was not allowed in the room, only hearing her voice from outside, although a junior associate of his "peeked" inside and reported the overthrown state counsellor to be looking healthy.
At least 18 protesters were killed amid intensifying pro-democracy demonstrations in Myanmar
The protesters were shot and killed by the military government, according to the UN.For nearly a month, a growing coalition of protesters has demanded the end of military rule in Myanmar, following a coup that led to the arrest of the nation’s civilian leaders on February 1. Demonstrations have taken place continuously across the country, taking the form of student protests, the halting of public transportation, and work stoppages that threaten to derail Myanmar’s economy.
"As a lawyer I have to trust my judiciary but I'm having very grave doubts about this because up until now I haven't had the chance to meet with her. The court doesn't even allow us to look at the documents of the case," Khin Maung Zaw said.
Once internationally revered, Suu Kyi's international standing nosedived over her defence of the military's "clearance operations" against the Muslim Rohingya in 2016 and 2017, a campaign that featured mass murder and rape and drove more than 700,000 people across the border to Bangladesh.
Her long-time lawyer acknowledged "there may be some misgivings about Aung San Suu Kyi" but said: "She is the only one hope for our country to progress to democracy."
Tens of thousands of people returned to the streets on Sunday despite overnight raids in Yangon to crack down on protest leaders.
"Detainees were punched and kicked with military boots, beaten with police batons, and then dragged into police vehicles," the advocacy group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said in a statement.
"Security forces entered residential areas and tried to arrest further protesters, and shot at the homes, destroying many."
The United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand have issued new sanctions against military figures and businesses. The Australian government is yet to follow suit but has said it is reviewing its foreign aid and military training programmes with Myanmar.
- with Reuters
ASEAN set for talks with Myanmar military as crisis escalates .
Foreign ministers will call for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release encourage talks between the civilian leader and the army.Singapore’s foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan, in a televised interview late on Monday, said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will tell the military it is appalled by the violence in Myanmar and call for the release of the country’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and for the two sides to talk.