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June 20, 2021
Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi remanded in custody following coup

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi detained for 2 weeks under import-export laws following coup

Suu Kyi, who was the country’s de facto leader under the title state counsellor, was issued with an arrest warrant for breaching the country’s import and export laws.

National League for Democracy (NLD) spokesperson Kyi Toe, posted on his Facebook account Wednesday that Suu Kyi would be detained until February 15.

“According to reliable information, a 14-day arrest warrant was issued against Daw Aung San Su Kyi under the Import and Export Law,” he said.

Deposed President Win Myint was also detained under the country’s Disaster Management Law, Kyi Toe said. Neither he nor Suu Kyi has been charged.

Suu Kyi and former President Win Myint were arrested in pre-dawn raids Monday hours before the military declared that power had been handed to commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing over unfounded allegations of election fraud. A state of emergency was declared for one year.

Numerous senior lawmakers and officials in the ruling National League for Democracy Party (NLD) were also detained, with some 400 kept at a guest house in the capital.

Cementing its rule, the new ruling junta removed 24 ministers and deputies from government and named 11 of its own allies as replacements who will assume their roles in a new administration.

The sudden seizure of power came as the new parliament was due to open and after months of increasing friction between the civilian government and the powerful military, known as the Tatmadaw, over alleged election irregularities.

Suu Kyi’s party, the NLD claimed an overwhelming victory in the November 2020 elections, only the second since the end of military rule, taking 83% of the vote, which granted it another five years in government.

The country’s election commission has repeatedly denied mass voter fraud took place.

Analysts have suggested the coup was more likely to do with the military attempting to reassert its power and the personal ambition of army chief Min Aung Hlaing, who was set to step down this year, rather than serious claims of voter fraud.

“Facing mandatory retirement in a few months, with no route to a civilian leadership role, and amid global calls for him to face criminal charges in The Hague, he was cornered,” Jared Genser, an international human rights lawyer who previously served as pro bono counsel to Suu Kyi, said in a CNN op-ed.
On Tuesday, United States President Joe Biden formally determined that the military takeover in Myanmar constituted a coup, a designation that requires the US to cut its foreign assistance to the country. A State Department official, speaking on a call with reporters, also said that sanctions in response to the power grab remain on the table.

Following the coup, doctors from hospitals across the country prepared to strike in protest, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Assistant Doctors at Yangon General Hospital released a statement pledging their participation in the “civil disobedience movement,” saying they will not work under a military led government and called for Suu Kyi’s release.

Video showed medical workers in Yangon outside the hospital Wednesday dressed in their scrubs and protective gear, while wearing red ribbons.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Information warned the media and public Tuesday not to spread rumors on social media or incite unrest, urging people to cooperate with the government following Monday’s coup.

“Some media and public are spreading rumors on social media conducting gatherings to incite rowdiness and issuing statements which can cause unrest,” the statement read. “We would like to urge the public not to carry out these acts and would like to notify the public to cooperate with the government in accordance with the existing laws.”

Anxiety is growing in Myanmar as to what will come next and many in the country have urged the international community to step up government pressure.

For more than 50 years, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, was run by successive isolationist military regimes that plunged the country into poverty and brutally stifled any dissent. Thousands of critics, activists, journalists, academics and artists were routinely jailed and tortured during that time.

Suu Kyi shot to prominence during her decades-long struggle against military rule. When her party, the NLD, won a landslide in elections in 2015 and formed the first civilian government, many pro-democracy supporters hoped it would mark a break from the military rule of the past and offer hope that Myanmar would continue to reform.

“We know that the military cannot be trusted to respect the human rights of people and the rule of law in Burma,” said Bo Kyi, co-founder of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. “When the military was last in charge, political prisoners like me were rounded up, sent to prison for decades, (put in) solitary confinement and tortured. We are concerned that if this state of emergency is not reversed, similar things will happen again,” added Kyi, who is also a former political prisoner.

“There is a fear that the military could continue persecuting officials, activists and crack down on ordinary people. But we have hope that Burma can return on its democratic path.”