Myanmar’s Suu Kyi asks to see lawyers when she faces a new criminal charge

Myanmar’s sacked civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was hit by a new criminal indictment during a court hearing on Monday, according to her lawyer. The hearing came when opponents of the military coup on February 1 demanded a challenge during the coming New Year’s holiday.

Lawyer Min Min Soe said that Suu Kyi came to Monday’s court hearing via a video link and received an extra fee related to a natural disaster law.

“She has been charged in six cases, five in [the capital] Naypyidaw and one in Yangon, Min Min Soe told AFP. The next hearing is scheduled for April 26, he added.

At her last court hearing, Suu Kyi again asked to see her lawyers in person.

The 75-year-old Nobel laureate has not been seen in public since his arrest in early February 1, when the Myanmar military ousted his government and seized power.

She has only been allowed to speak to her lawyers via video link in the presence of security officials and it is not known if she is even aware of the bloody unrest that has plagued the country since the military seized power.

“No, we do not, we could only talk about legal issues,” her lawyer told Reuters when asked if her legal team had been able to talk to her about the protests in which more than 700 people have been killed.

New Year’s show of defiance

Monday’s hearing came when opponents of the coup demanded the military’s defiance with suits and prayers during the coming New Year’s holiday.

The traditional New Year, known as Thingyan in Myanmar, is the most important holiday of the year and is usually celebrated with prayers, ritual cleansing of Buddha images in temples and loud water throwing in the streets.

“The military council does not own Thingyan. The power of the people is in the hands of the people,” Ei Thinzar Maung, leader of the protest group General Strike Collaboration Committee, wrote on Facebook.

“The united people need to keep a people’s Thingyan,” said Ei Thinzar Maung.

She urged Buddhists to wear certain religious garments and read prayers together, and that members of the country’s small Christian communities should wear white and read hymns. She said that followers of other religions should follow the leadership of the leaders.

The holiday runs from April 13 to April 17, which is New Year’s Day.

Security forces have killed 706 protesters, including 46 children, since the coup, according to a report by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group.

This number includes 82 people killed in the city of Bago, about 70 kilometers northeast of Yangon, on Friday, which the AAPP called a “killing field”.

( Jowharwith AFP and REUTERS)