Detained Suu Kyi Charged Over Walkie-Talkies in Myanmar Coup
(Bloomberg) -- Myanmar authorities filed criminal charges against former leader Aung San Suu Kyi for possessing illegally imported walkie-talkies just days after the military ousted her government in a coup.
Suu Kyi was charged for breaching an import-export law and faces as many as three years in prison if convicted. The police incident report indicated that unauthorized telecommunications equipment was found at her home in Naypyitaw, the capital.
Former President Win Myint was separately charged for breaching the natural disaster management law over an election campaign rally that police say violated Covid-19 restrictions and faces the same penalty, the report notes. Kyi Toe, a member of the central information committee of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party confirmed the report.
Suu Kyi has called on supporters to resist Myanmar’s generals, who seized power on Monday after claiming without presenting evidence that her landslide victory in November’s election was tainted with fraud. The military has pledged to hold elections after a yearlong state of emergency.
Lawmakers from her party released a statement Wednesday demanding the immediate release of Suu Kyi and the former president, recognition of the 2020 election results and the removal of all barriers to holding a new parliamentary session.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable to see this coup, and I hope that democracy will be able to make progress again in Myanmar,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday in a virtual event hosted by the Washington Post.
“If we can accuse her of something,” he said of Suu Kyi, “it’s that she was too close to the military, it’s that she protected too much the military, mainly in relation to what has happened in relation to the dramatic offensive of the military against the Rohingyas.”
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Many of the officials who orchestrated the coup were also responsible for atrocities committed against the Rohingya Muslim minority, according to the U.S. State Department.
Myanmar military chief Min Aung Hlaing said late Wednesday the nation will continue diplomatic ties with all countries, with its nonaligned foreign policy remaining unchanged, the military-run Myawady TV announced. The army also appointed four new ministers, for a total of 18 positions so far.
Myanmar has started to see some protests emerge, with doctors vowing to shut hospitals across the country. A “Civil Disobedience Movement” started by pro-democracy activists including medical professionals announced Wednesday that more than 70 hospitals and medical departments would stop work in protest of what it called an “illegitimate” government. Protests have in the past been violently quashed under military rule.
Another campaign initiated by lawmakers saw residents in Myanmar’s commercial capital, Yangon, bang pots and honk car horns on Tuesday evening to show their opposition to the coup. They are planning similar events daily and want to expand the campaign to other big cities like Naypyidaw and Mandalay.
The army has “ruthlessly” staged a coup and is “putting their own interests above our vulnerable population who have been facing medical, economic, and social hardships during this global pandemic,” reads a statement posted to the Civil Disobedience Movement Facebook page, which has gained more than 160,000 followers since it was started on Tuesday.
The group pledges to only take direction from Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party. “We do not recognize them as our government.”
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