Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi was charged again Tuesday after the military imposed a second overnight internet shutdown to quell a revolt against the coup.
In the two weeks since generals ousted Suu Kyi and placed the civilian under house arrest in the administrative capital, Naypyidaw, large cities and isolated village communities alike have been in open revolt.
The military justified its seizure of power on allegations of widespread electoral fraud in the November elections, won by Suu Kyi’s party.
After her detention in a dawn robbery on February 1, the day of the coup, she was charged under an obscure import and export law with walkie-talkies found during a search in her home.
The Nobel Laureate’s attorney told AFP on Tuesday that she had been charged again with violating the country’s disaster control law.
“She was charged under Section 8 of the Export and Import Act and Section 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Act,” Khin Maung Zaw told AFP.
While it was unclear how the Disaster Act was applied in Suu Kyi’s case, it was used against deposed President Win Myint, also arrested on February 1, in connection with a campaign event in which the junta claims to violate coronavirus-related restrictions to have.
Khin Maung Zaw added that Suu Kyi and Win Myint, with whom he has not yet been in contact, are expected to appear via videoconference during a trial on March 1st.
Both defendants were in a “safer place” and “in good health,” according to military spokesman Zaw Min Tun.
“It’s not like they’ve been arrested – they live in their homes,” said the general, who became the country’s vice minister of information after the coup, during a press conference Tuesday.
More than 420 people have been arrested since the coup, according to a list of confirmed detentions by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Monitoring Group. There are numerous unconfirmed reports of other arrests.
“We haven’t slept all night”
As violence has increased, security forces have suppressed huge nationwide street protests and a campaign of disobedience encouraging officials to strike.
In the past few days, troops have spread across the country.
They fired rubber bullets to disperse a rally in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city, hours before authorities again restricted internet access.
“They shut down the internet because they want to do bad things,” said Win Tun, 44, who lives in the commercial capital of Yangon.
“We didn’t sleep all night so we could see what was going to happen.”
The internet blackout came after another day of protest in Yangon and Mandalay, where police used slingshots against protesters and fired rubber bullets into the crowd. At least six were injured in the clashes.
The crowds returned to the streets of Yangon and across the country on Tuesday morning.
“I want more people to join the protests, we don’t want to be seen as weak,” said university student Thwe Ei Sann.
A large crowd blocked train tracks outside Mawlamyine to prevent a train going to Yangon from leaving the port city.
Many of the country’s train drivers have joined the boycotts of the coup and thwarted efforts by the junta to get the national rail network back on track after a Covid-19 shutdown.
Yangon residents used tree trunks to block police vehicles over the weekend to bring striking railway workers back to their stations.
“Nobody believes them”
The international community has sparked a barrage of convictions against the leaders of the new military administration in Myanmar, which insist that it has legitimately taken power.
UN Ambassador Christine Schraner Burgener spoke to junta number two Soe Win on Monday and warned him that the regime’s network failures “undermine fundamental democratic principles”, according to a spokesman.
State media reported the following day that the general had discussed “security measures” with the envoy, as well as the introduction of the Covid-19 vaccination program and the regime’s plans for economic recovery.
UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews told AFP on Monday that he did not expect the Suu Kyi trial to be fair.
“There’s nothing fair about the junta. It’s theater. It’s just theater,” said Andrews.
“And of course nobody believes them.”
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)