Internet blackout for second straight overnight to curb anti-coup uprising; junta promises election
Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi was hit with another charge on Tuesday, after the military imposed a second straight overnight Internet shutdown in an attempt to grind down an anti-coup uprising.
In the two weeks since the generals ousted Ms. Suu Kyi and put the civilian leader under house arrest in the administrative capital Naypyidaw, big cities and isolated village communities alike have been in open revolt.
The military justified its power seizure by alleging widespread voter fraud in November elections that Ms. Suu Kyi’s party won.
After her detention in a dawn raid on February 1 — the day of the coup — she was charged under an obscure import and export law, over walkie talkies that were found in her home during a search.
The Nobel laureate’s lawyer told AFP on Tuesday she had been hit with a second charge, of violating the country’s disaster management law.
“She was charged under section 8 of the Export and Import law and section 25 of the Natural Disaster Management law as well,” Khin Maung Zaw told AFP.
While it was unclear how the disaster law applied in Ms. Suu Kyi’s case, it has been used against deposed President Win Myint — also arrested on February 1 — relating to a campaign event that the junta alleges broke coronavirus-related restrictions.
‘In good health’
Mr. Khin Maung Zaw added that Ms. Suu Kyi and Mr. Win Myint, both of whom he has yet to have any contact with, were expected to appear via video conference during a March 1 trial.
Both defendants were in a “safer place” and “in good health”, according to military spokesman Zaw Min Tun.
“It’s not like they were arrested — they are staying at their houses,” the Brigadier General, who became Vice-Minister of information after the coup, said during a press conference.
“Our objective is to hold an election and hand power to the winning party,” he said.
“We guarantee … that the election will be held,” he told
More than 420 people have been arrested since the coup, according to a list of confirmed detentions from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group. There are numerous unconfirmed reports of other arrests.
Security forces have used increasing force to quell huge nationwide street protests and a disobedience campaign encouraging civil servants to strike.
Troops have fanned out around the country in recent days. They fired rubber bullets to disperse one rally in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, hours before authorities again cut Internet access.
“They shut down the Internet because they want to do bad things,” said 44-year-old Win Tun, a resident of commercial capital Yangon.
“We didn’t sleep the whole night so we could see what would happen.”
The Internet blackout came after another day of protests in Yangon and Mandalay, where police used slingshots against protesters and fired rubber bullets into the crowd. At least six were injured in the clashes.
Crowds returned to the streets of Yangon and around the country on Tuesday morning. “I want more people to join the protests, we don’t want to be seen as weak,” said university student Thwe Ei Sann.