World Myanmar court files more charges against Aung San Suu Kyi, police crack down on protests

21:49  01 march  2021
21:49  01 march  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Myanmar's ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi has appeared in court as supporters marched in several towns and cities in defiance of a crackdown after the bloodiest day since the February 1 military coup.

Police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of protesters in the main city of Yangon on Monday, witnesses said.

They later combed side streets, firing rubber bullets and injuring at least one person, media reported.

In an evening address on state television, army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said protest leaders and "instigators" would be punished.

The army was also investigating financial abuse by the civilian government, he said.

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Ms Suu Kyi, 75, looked in good health during her appearance before a video link appearance in court in the capital Naypyidaw, one of her lawyers said.

Two more charges were added to those filed against her immediately after the coup.

"I saw Amay on the video, she looks healthy," lawyer Min Min Soe said, using an affectionate term meaning "mother" to refer to Ms Suu Kyi.

The Nobel Peace laureate, who leads the National League for Democracy (NLD), has not been seen in public since her government was ousted and she was detained along with other party leaders.

She was initially charged with illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios.

Later, she learned she was facing an additional charge of violating a natural disaster law by breaching coronavirus protocols .

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On Monday, two more charges were added — one under a section of a colonial-era penal code prohibiting publication of information that may "cause fear or alarm", and the other under a telecommunications law stipulating licences for equipment.

The next hearing will be on March 15.

Critics of the coup say the charges are trumped up.

Eighteen killed in bloodiest day of protests

Myanmar has been in chaos since the military seized power after alleging fraud in a November election won by the NLD in a landslide.

Daily protests have been getting increasingly violent as police and troops try to stamp them out.

In his speech, read out by a newsreader on state-run MRTV, Senior General Hlaing said action would be taken against civil servants refusing to work for the junta.

He said the military was investigating what he called corruption by the civilian government, accusing the authorities of misusing money meant for COVID-19 prevention efforts.

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"The respective ministries are working to find out such financial abuse," he said, adding action would be taken against organisations where foreign currency funds were found.

He said a committee formed by ousted politicians from the civilian government, which has announced the formation of a government-in-exile, was illegal and anyone associated with it would be punished.

The Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) on Monday declared the junta a terrorist group and called the violence against protesters a "declaration of war on unarmed civilians".

On Sunday, police fired on crowds in several places, killing 18 people, the United Nations human rights office said.

Junta representative to front ASEAN meeting

The military has not commented on Sunday's violence.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper warned that "severe action will be inevitably taken" against "anarchic mobs".

Demonstrators marched on Monday in the north-western town of Kale, holding up pictures of Ms Suu Kyi.

Live video on Facebook showed a crowd chanting slogans in the north-eastern town of Lashio.

Police and soldiers later raided a church in the town and detained 11 people, a church group said.

The coup brought a halt to Myanmar's tentative steps towards democracy after nearly 50 years of military rule.

It has drawn condemnation from Western countries, and is of growing concern among Myanmar's neighbours.

Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, will hold a video meeting on Tuesday to discuss the coup and to listen to a representative of the Myanmar military, Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said.

The generals have for years shrugged off diplomatic pressure, partly because of the support of China and Russia.

The junta has promised a new election but not set a date.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said at least 270 people were detained on Sunday, from a total of 1,132 that have been arrested since the coup.


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