Myanmar's Suu Kyi Makes First Personal Court Appearance Since Coup
By VOA News May 24, 2021
Aung San Suu Kyi made her first in-person court appearance Monday since she was deposed as Myanmar's de facto leader in the February 1 military takeover.
Her lawyers told journalists in the capital Naypyitaw they were allowed to meet with Suu Kyi for 30 minutes before the hearing to discuss the case. They said the 75-year-old Nobel Peace laureate sounded and looked healthy, and wished the people of Myanmar good health.
Suu Kyi also issued a defiant message about her National League for Democracy party, saying "our party grew out of the people so it will exist as long as people support it."
The lawyers also briefly met with ousted President Win Myint, who served in the government Suu Kyi led as state counsellor.
Suu Kyi has been detained since the coup. She is facing multiple criminal charges, the most serious an allegation that she accepted $600,000 in illegal payments. She has also been charged with the possession of unlicensed walkie-talkies, violating COVID-19 restrictions, breaching telecommunication laws and incitement to cause public unrest.
The civilian government was overthrown nearly three months after the NLD won parliamentary elections in a landslide. The junta has cited widespread electoral fraud in the November 8 election as a reason for the coup, an allegation the civilian electoral commission denied. The junta has threatened to dissolve the NLD over the allegations.
The coup triggered a crisis in the Southeast Asian country that led to deadly anti-junta demonstrations and clashes between several armed ethnic groups and the ruling junta.
In a campaign to quell the protests, the government has killed more than 800 protesters and bystanders since the takeover, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which tracks casualties and arrests.
There is also a growing humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.
The U.N. special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, told reporters Monday that food insecurity is growing as access to money is becoming more difficult.
"In the coming 3 to 6 months, we will probably have 3.4 million people who could be at risk of food insecurity due to the economic slowdown provoked by the political crisis," she told reporters in a video briefing from Bangkok.
The envoy has been in the region for more than six weeks, meeting with regional leaders as she tries to get approval from the junta to enter Myanmar. On Tuesday, she will travel to Japan to meet with the foreign minister and Japan's special envoy for Myanmar to continue her efforts to find a peaceful solution to the situation.
U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.
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