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Suu Kyi confronted with sedition charge on 2nd day of trial

Bangkok: The trial of Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi entered its second day on June 15, with the prosecution presenting arguments that she incited public disorder and flouted coronavirus restrictions, part of a package of charges the ruling junta is seen as using to discredit her and consolidate its control.

Suu Kyi and other members of her government and party were arrested by the military after the February 1 coup, with criminal charges brought against some of the top figures on litany of charges that both their supporters and independent observers say are bogus.

The coup reversed years democratic reforms in Myanmar after decades of military rule and sparked widespread protests and international condemnation.

Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party had been due to start a second five-year term of office after winning a landslide victory in a general election last November.

Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since her arrest and her lawyers say they don’t know exactly where she is currently being held.

The sedition charge, which is sometimes described as incitement, calls for up to two years’ imprisonment for anyone found guilty of causing fear or alarm that could cause an offense against the state or public tranquility.

The trial covered charges she had illegally imported walkie-talkies that were for her bodyguards’ use; unlicensed use of those radios; and violating the Natural Disaster Management Law by allegedly breaking pandemic restrictions during last year’s election campaign, her lawyers said.

Suu Kyi also faces more charges that have yet to go to trial, among them accepting bribes. (New Indian Express)

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Junta to start court case against Suu Kyi next week

Naypyitaw: Myanmar’s military junta will begin presenting its case against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi in court starting June 14, her lawyers said.

The military arrested Suu Kyi in February when it overthrew her elected government. Public resistance to the coup remains strong and in recent months has taken the form of a low-level armed insurrection.

Government prosecutors will have until June 28 to finish their presentation in the court in Naypyitaw, the capital, where she is being tried on five charges, after which Suu Kyi’s defense team will have until July 26 to present its case, said Khin Maung Zaw, the team’s senior member.

Suu Kyi’s supporters say the charges against her are politically motivated and are meant to discredit her and legitimize the military’s takeover. If convicted of any of the offenses, she could be banned from running in an election promised by the junta within one or two years of its takeover.

She and her two co-defendants are charged with spreading information that could cause public alarm or unrest.

Suu Kyi also faces two counts of violating the Natural Disaster Management Law for allegedly breaking COVID-19 pandemic restrictions during the 2020 election campaign; illegally importing walkie-talkies that were for her bodyguards’ use; and unlicensed use of the radios.

A sixth charge, which is the most serious one: breaching the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a penalty of up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

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Latest News USA

Junta moves Suu Kyi to ‘unknown location’

Yangon: Myanmar’s junta has moved the nation’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ex-president Win Myint from their residences in the capital to an “unknown location,” according to allies who’ve expressed serious concerns for their safety, Bloomberg reported.

The two have been held by the country’s powerful military since it seized power in a coup on Feb 1.

“We’ve heard from reliable sources that President Win Myint and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi have been moved to another unknown location,” the shadow government formed by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party and allies, also known as the National Unity Government said in a statement.

Suu Kyi, who once defended the military’s brutal crackdown on Rohingya minorities at the International Court of Justice, is facing six criminal charges including violating state secrets and incitement. Win Myint is also charged with incitement and breaching Covid-19 restrictions.

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International Latest News

Over 800 Killed by security forces since coup: Activists

Yangon: More than 800 people have been killed by Myanmar‘s security forces since a wave of protests broke out across the country after the military seized power in a coup in February, an activist group said.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army ousted Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government and detained her and officials of her National League for Democracy party.

The military has responded to protests by pro-democracy supporters in cities and towns with lethal force, while there has been an upsurge in fighting between the army and ethnic rebels in border areas and newly formed militia forces.

As of May 17, 802 people had been killed in the junta’s crackdown on its opponents, according to the activist group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

“This is the number verified by AAPP, the actual number of fatalities is likely much higher,” the group said in its daily briefing.

It detailed six additional fatalities including in towns in Chin state and in districts of the main cities of Mandalay and Yangon.

The activist group said 4,120 people were currently being detained, including 20 who had been sentenced to death.

Some of the most intense fighting since the February 1 coup has emerged in recent days in Mindat, about 100 km (60 miles) from the Indian border in Chin state as the army battles local militias.

Martial law was declared in Mindat last week before the army launched its assault, using artillery and helicopters against a newly formed Chinland Defense Force. The militia, armed mainly with hunting rifles, said it had pulled back to spare civilians from being caught in the crossfire.

A UN General Assembly vote on May 18 on a draft resolution calling “for an immediate suspension of the direct and indirect supply, sale or transfer of all weapons and munitions” to Myanmar has been postponed, diplomats said. (The Wire)

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Myanmar marks 100 days of junta rule with protests

New Delhi: Protesters rallied in towns and cities around Myanmar on May 11, to denounce its military rulers, 100 days after the generals’ overthrow of an elected government plunged the country into its biggest crisis in decades.

Demonstrators took part in marches, motorcycle convoys and flash protests to evade security forces, some making three-finger gestures of defiance as anti-coup groups renewed calls for the toppling of a junta condemned around the world for killing hundreds of civilians.

The junta has struggled to govern Myanmar since seizing power on February 1, with protests, strikes and a civil disobedience campaign crippling businesses and the bureaucracy, in an overwhelming public rejection of the return of military rule.

Protesters in the biggest city Yangon carried a banner saying “Yangon strikes for complete removal of the enemy,” while demonstrators in Hpakant in northern Kachin State marched chanting “the revolution must prevail”.

Demonstrators elsewhere held signs in support of strikes and a National Unity Government (NUG), a coalition of anti-junta elements that has declared itself Myanmar’s legitimate authority.

The military arrested elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi hours before a coup that it said was to protect the country’s fledgling democracy after a November election which it said was marred by fraud. Suu Kyi’s party, which won in a landslide, has rejected that.

Despite the imposition of limited economic sanctions by the United States, the European Union and others, the junta has shown no sign of compromise. It has the tacit support of neighboring China, a major investor and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Security forces have killed 781 people since the coup, including 52 children, and 3,843 people are in detention, according to monitoring group the Association for Political Prisoners, whose figures are being used by the United Nations. (India Today)

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International Latest News

Fighting erupts in Myanmar, insurgents attack army outpost

Yangon: Heavy fighting erupted at a Myanmar army outpost near the eastern border with Thailand early on April 27 in an area largely controlled by forces of a Karen ethnic army.

The Karen National Union (KNU), Myanmar’s oldest rebel force, said it had captured the army camp on the west bank of the Salween river, which forms the border with Thailand. The Myanmar military later hit back against the insurgents with air strikes, the KNU and Thai authorities said.

The fighting also came days after Southeast Asian leaders said they had reached consensus with the junta on ending violence.

Villagers across the Salween river in Thailand said heavy gunfire started before sunrise. Video posted on social media showed flames and smoke on the forested hillside.

The Myanmar army made no immediate comment. It historically proclaimed itself the one institution that can keep the multi-ethnic country of over 53 million people together, though much of Myanmar has rallied in opposition to its coup.

The army base at the Thai border had been largely surrounded by KNU forces and food had run short in recent weeks, according to Thai villagers who had had contact with the soldiers.

Karen groups say 24,000 people have been displaced in recent weeks by the violence, including air strikes by Myanmar’s air force, and are sheltering in the jungle.

Some of Myanmar’s two dozen armed groups have supported opponents of the junta, whose forces have killed more than 750 civilians to try to suppress protests against the coup, according to an activist group.

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International Latest News

Myanmar cracks down on celebrations of new shadow govt

Yangon: Security forces in Myanmar used violence on April 19 against demonstrators who sought to celebrate last week’s formation of a shadow government to serve as an alternative to the military junta that has held power since a February coup.

Myanmar media and posts on social networks said the violence was especially intense in Myingyan, a town in central Myanmar, where the online news site The Irrawaddy reported at least one person was killed on April 18.

Marches were held in Mandalay, the country’s second biggest city, and elsewhere to show support for the National Unity Government announced recently by protest leaders.

Security forces reportedly broke up a march at dawn in Mandalay that included Buddhist monks.

Myanmar Now, a news website, said security forces on April 18 launched attacks in Myingyan with the main target being a street stronghold set up by protesters, some believed armed with hunting rifles.

It said the stronghold, fortified with sandbags, was destroyed by government forces, rebuilt overnight and then destroyed again on April 19.

Security forces have killed at least 737 protesters and bystanders since the military takeover, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors casualties and arrests.

The government in recent weeks seems to be pursuing a strategy of hunting down individual protest leaders nationwide, while using overwhelming force, town by town, to smash street protests and intimidate participants.

The military has issued widely circulated wanted lists of more that 200 protest supporters — including actors, internet influencers and medical personnel — accused of endangering public order, a charge punishable by up to three years in prison.

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International Latest News

‘Myanmar could be heading towards full-blown conflict’

Nay Pyi Taw: The UN rights chief warned Myanmar could be spiraling towards a “full-blown” Syrian-style conflict, after a two-month crackdown that a local monitoring group says has already claimed more than 700 lives.

Myanmar is in chaos and its economy has been paralyzed since the military seized power from civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

Warning of possible crimes against humanity, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged countries to take immediate action to push Myanmar’s military to stop its “campaign of repression and slaughter of its people.”

At least 710 civilians have been killed as of late April 12, including 50 children, according to a local monitoring group.

“I fear the situation in Myanmar is heading towards a full-blown conflict,” Bachelet said in a statement.

 “There are clear echoes of Syria in 2011,” she warned, referring to the start of a civil war that over the past decade has killed nearly 4,00,000 people and forced more than six million to flee the country.

In recent weeks, several of Myanmar’s ethnic rebel groups in some lawless border territories have stepped up attacks on the military and police, raising fears of a broader civil conflict.

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Articles India Latest News

India faces threat of bigger influx of refugees from Mynamar

by K.S. Tomar

Due to hunger for power and lack of intense international pressure (zero from Russia and China), Army rulers in Myanmar are resorting to killings of demonstrators who seem determined to overthrow the military regime, which had staged a coup d’état on February 1 and snatched the power from an elected government.

India is facing a new refugee problem as citizens of Myanmar and even some policemen have crossed over to Mizoram, which has made arrangements of their food and shelter on humanitarian grounds. Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga has called “not acceptable” the Centre’s order to prevent illegal immigration from Myanmar and ensure speedy deportation of refugees, and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide them asylum.

The Manipur Government, however, has withdrawn its letter issued on March 26 to five deputy commissioners to ‘Politely Turn Away’ Myanmar refugees. Now the state government has been taking all humanitarian steps to help refugees, including taking the injured to Imphal for treatment.

America and European Union have imposed sanctions against army rulers who have ignored such pressure while ruthlessly quelling the violence by opening  fire on thousands of demonstrators who have come out on the streets.

The violence and killings by the army has become a daily tragedy but there is no let up in the anger and determination of people to oust the Junta Regime in Myanmar. The military seized control of the South East Asian country after an election which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide, weakening the control of army generals.

Myanmar’s military has arrested civilian leaders, including Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and trying them by military courts. A year-long state of emergency has been imposed. The army alleged that election fraud had been committed though the electoral commission dismissed the army’s complaints.

Mizoram CM  Zoramthanga recently held a virtual meeting with Myanmar Foreign Minister-in-exile Zin Mar Aung of the National League for Democracy, which took place despite New Delhi’s reluctance to accommodate the Myanmarese refugees. Center has asked the border states Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, as well as Assam Rifles to identify Myanmar refugees and to not permit them to stay in India. .

India does not have a national policy on refugees as it  is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. The government  had circulated  a Standard Operating Procedure to all states and union territories in 2011 to deal with foreign nationals who claimed to be refugees.

 Human rights officials have stressed the need for enhanced intervention of the international community to stop the bloodshed. UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews emphasized the dire requirement of “robust, coordinated action,” as “words are not enough” to protect lives of people of Myanmar who desperately need the world’s support.

Experts believe that protestors are adopting ‘Three Finger Salute’ to oppose the army coup, as seen in the Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins. It was first used by the protesting medical workers. Later, it was adopted by youth protesters, after which it became a regular occurrence across all massive protests in Yangon. It has become a symbol of protest by the subjugated and oppressed people of Myanmar.

International pressure on the junta has increased with new US and European sanctions. But Russia’s deputy defense minister Alexander Fomin attended the parade in Naypyitaw, having met senior junta leaders which encourage military rulers to continue their repression. Army commander in chief of Myanmar, Min Aung Hlaing,  describes Russia as a ‘True Friend’.

On the other hand, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand simply  sent representatives to Myanmar to be part of the parade, described as a part of diplomatic protocol.

 The writer is a senior journalist and national columnist based in Delhi.

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