Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attends the Leaders Plenary Session of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -Australia Special Summit in Sydney on March 18, 2018. Mark Metcalfe | AFP | Getty Images
Myanmar police have filed charges against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi for illegally importing communications equipment and she will be detained until Feb. 15 for investigations, according to a police document. The move followed a military coup on Monday and the detention of Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi and other civilian politicians. The takeover cut short Myanmar’s long transition to democracy and drew condemnation from the United States and other Western countries. A police request to a court detailing the accusations against Suu Kyi, 75, said six walkie-talkie radios had been found in a search of her home in the capital Naypyidaw. The radios were imported illegally and used without permission, it said. The document reviewed on Wednesday requested Suu Kyi’s detention “in order to question witnesses, request evidence and seek legal counsel after questioning the defendant.” A separate document showed police filed charges against ousted President Win Myint for violating protocols to stop the spread of the coronavirus during campaigning for an election last November.
The charges against Suu Kyi “just compound the undermining of the rule of law in Myanmar and the democratic process,” United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Wednesday. “We continue to call for her immediate release and the president’s immediate release and all others who have been detained by the military in the last few days,” he said. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won November’s election in a landslide but the military, headed by Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing, claimed the vote was marred by fraud and justified its seizure of power on those grounds. The electoral commission had said the vote was fair. The chair of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Charles Santiago, said the new charges were ludicrous. “This is an absurd move by the junta to try to legitimize their illegal power grab,” he said in a statement. Reuters was not immediately able to reach the police, the government or the court for comment. Suu Kyi spent about 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2010 as she led the country’s democracy movement, and she remains hugely popular at home despite damage to her international reputation over the plight of Muslim Rohingya refugees in 2017.
The NLD made no immediate comment. A party official said on Tuesday he had learned she was under house arrest in the capital, Naypyidaw, and was in good health. The party said its offices had been raided in several regions and it urged authorities to stop what it called unlawful acts after its election victory.
Opposition to the junta has begun to emerge in Myanmar. Staff at government hospitals across the country of 54 million people stopped work or wore red ribbons as part of a civil disobedience campaign. The newly formed Myanmar Civil Disobedience Movement said doctors at 70 hospitals and medical departments in 30 towns had joined the protest. It accused the army of putting its interests above a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 3,100 people, one of the highest tolls in Southeast Asia. “The first vaccines arrived in Myanmar only last week and the response to the Coviid-19 pandemic must remain a priority for the foreseeable future,” the U.N.’s Dujarric said. “We really cannot accept this,” said 49-year-old Myo Myo Mon, who was among the doctors who stopped work to protest.
The junta has declared a one-year state of emergency and has promised to hold fair elections, but has not said when.
G-7 condemns coup