Suu Kyi returns to Myanmar court facing sedition charges

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A mass uprising in Myanmar against a February military putsch to overthrow Suu Kyi has been met with a brutal crackdown. STR/AFP

Deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in a junta court again on June 22, on trial for sedition and for flouting Covid restrictions during an election her ousted party won in a landslide.

A mass uprising in Myanmar against a February military putsch has been met with a brutal crackdown that has killed more than 870 civilians, according to a local monitoring group.

Under house arrest and invisible bar a handful of court appearances, Suu Kyi has been hit with an eclectic raft of charges, including accepting illegal payments of gold and violating a colonial-era secrecy law.

On June 22, the court heard testimony she violated Covid-19 restrictions during elections last year that her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won in a landslide, her lawyer The Maung Maung told reporters.

The special court in Naypyidaw also heard testimony on separate sedition charges.

Journalists were barred from the proceedings.Suu Kyi appeared in good health, The Maung Maung said.

Brief meetings with her legal team have been the only channel to the outside world for Suu Kyi – who remains widely popular in Myanmar – since she was detained in February.

Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing has justified his power grab by citing alleged electoral fraud in the November poll and has threatened to dissolve the NLD.

Suu Kyi’s lawyers have said they expect the trial to wrap up by July 26.

The other charges against her include claims that she accepted illegal payments of gold and violated a colonial-era secrecy law.

The hearing came as soldiers battled an anti-junta civilian militia with small arms and grenades in the city of Mandalay on June 22, with at least four protesters and two security personnel killed, authorities and military sources said.

Fighting has flared across Myanmar since the February coup as people form “defence forces” to battle a brutal military crackdown on dissent, but clashes have largely been restricted to rural areas.

Acting on a tip-off, security forces raided a house in Mandalay’s Chan Mya Tharsi township on June 22 morning, the junta’s information team said in a statement, and were met with small arms fire and grenades.

Two officers were killed during the raid, military sources told AFP, and at least 10 were wounded.

Four “terrorists” were killed and eight arrested in possession of homemade mines, hand grenades and small arms, a junta spokesman said in a statement.

“We could hear artillery shooting even though our house is far from that place,” a Mandalay resident said.

Another four members of the self-defence group were killed when the car they were attempting to flee in crashed, the spokesman said, without providing details.

The US embassy in Yangon said on Twitter it was “tracking reports of ongoing fighting in Mandalay … We are disturbed by the military escalation and urgently call for a cessation of violence”.

The mass uprising against the military putsch that toppled the government of Aung San Suu Kyi has been met with a brutal crackdown that has killed more than 870 civilians, according to a local monitoring group.

As well as the rise of local self-defence forces, analysts believe hundreds of anti-coup protesters from Myanmar’s towns and cities have trekked into insurgent-held areas to receive military training.

But part-time fighters know the odds are stacked against them in any confrontation with Myanmar’s military – one of Southeast Asia’s most battle-hardened and brutal.