Suu Kyi defiant in first comments since coup

Published May 25, 2021
AUNG San Suu Kyi and former president Win Myint appear at a court in Naypyidaw on Monday.—Reuters
AUNG San Suu Kyi and former president Win Myint appear at a court in Naypyidaw on Monday.—Reuters

NAYPYIDAW: Deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi voiced defiance on Monday as she made her first court appearance since the military detained her in a coup, vowing her political party would live on.

Myanmar has been in uproar since the Feb 1 putsch, with near-daily protests and a nationwide civil disobedience movement.

The military has killed more than 800 civilians in a crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group.

The junta has threatened to dissolve Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party — which swept elections in 2020 — over alleged voter fraud.

The Nobel laureate — who has not been seen in public since the coup — sounded “healthy and fully confident” during the 30-minute meeting, her lawyer Min Min Soe said.

“She wishes her people to stay healthy as well as affirmed the NLD will exist as long as people exist because it was founded for people.” State media released images of Suu Kyi, the first since she was detained, sitting with senior NLD figure Myo Aung and former president Win Myint during the hearing.

She has been hit with a string of criminal charges including flouting coronavirus restrictions during last year’s election campaign and possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies.

There was a heavy security presence in the capital Naypyidaw, a correspondent said, with the road to the specially constructed courthouse blocked by police trucks.

There have been weeks of delays to Suu Kyi’s legal case and her lawyers have struggled to gain access to her.

The next hearing was set for June 7, Min Min Soe said, adding she had also met Win Myint, who was ousted and detained along with Suu Kyi.

“It’s hard to say why this meeting was now allowed,” Richard Horsey, senior adviser on Myanmar to the International Crisis Group, said.

“But (it) certainly suggests that the regime is feeling more confident — despite the magnitude of the ongoing crisis and resistance.” As the lawyers left the compound in Naypyidaw, police arrested a legal representative of Myo Aung, lawyers said.

US journalist detained

An American editor of a Myanmar-based news outlet was detained by authorities in Yangon on Monday as he attempted to board a flight out of the coup-hit country, his employers said.

United States citizen and managing editor of Frontier Myanmar Danny Fenster was detained at Yangon International Airport, the outlet said in a statement on its verified Twitter account.

The US State Department said it was “aware of reports” of the arrest.

“We take seriously our responsibility to assist US citizens abroad, and are monitoring the situation,” a spokesman said, while declining to provide further details for privacy reasons.

Myanmar has been in uproar since the military seized power in a Feb 1 coup, with near-daily protests and a nationwide civil disobedience movement.

More than 800 people have been killed by the military, according to a local monitoring group.

The press has been caught in the crackdown as the junta tries to tighten control over the flow of information, throttling internet access and revoking the licences of local media outlets.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2021

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