Myanmar Junta Blocks Cash For Detained Aung San Suu Kyi

Guards have refused to relay money, but have agreed to pass on cooking oil and rice to the 75-year-old leader.
2021-06-17
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Myanmar Junta Blocks Cash For Detained Aung San Suu Kyi A Myanmar protester holds a poster with an image of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a candlelight vigil to honor those who have died during demonstrations against the military coup, in Yangon, March 13, 2021.
AFP

Myanmar junta authorities have denied a request by the legal team of detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi to relay money to her so she can pay her expenses while she faces trial on several charges, the lead attorney said Thursday.

Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest at an undisclosed location in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, refused to accept assistance from the military regime that overthrew her elected government on Feb. 1, said lawyer Khin Maung Zaw.

Before a hearing on June 7, Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed to meet with the members of her legal team for the first time, during which she requested funds to cover daily expenses because of the financial difficulties she now faces after being in detention for more than four months, he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi told her lawyers that she had not been able to pay her household employees their daily wages since the day the military regime detained her in February.

Police guards have refused to accept money provided by Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers to pay for her daily expenses, the attorneys said.

Her legal defense team tried to deliver five million kyats (U.S. $3,000) along with other supplies to Aung San Suu Kyi through the guards last week so she could pay her household staff’s wages, but the police refused to give the money to her.

“We sent some rice, cooking oil, and salt,” which the guards agreed to pass on to Aung San Suu Kyi, said Khin Maung Zaw.

“Aung San Suu Kyi said some of the stuff in there had some kind of mold on it,” he said, adding that the legal team sent the food supplies after meeting with her a second time.

“The five million kyats we left with the guards was given back to us the other day,” he added. “They said they needed instructions from higher levels before they could accept it.”

Attorney Kyi Win, another member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team, said the legal team left the money in Naypyidaw in case authorities decided to allow the detained leader to have it.

Other people have wanted to send donations to the beloved political leader, but Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to accept those as well, Khin Maung Zaw said.

A member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) said that the deposed leader asked her lawyers to help her because she does not want help from those who have detained her.

“But refusing to let the legal team help her and returning the money is something unacceptable,” said the person, who declined to be identified for safety reasons. “We are so worried about her.”

Seven criminal charges

Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged with seven criminal offenses for allegedly violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act and for corruption, incitement, violation of the Telecommunication Law, possession of unlicensed walkie-talkie radios, and two violations of protocols set up to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The Nobel laureate, who will be 76 years old on Saturday, could face more than 20 years in prison. While under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi has had no access to independent media and is largely in the dark about developments that have occurred since the coup.

The military council plans to finish hearing all the cases against Aung San Suu Kyi within six months, her lawyers said.

Authorities set up a special court in Naypyidaw’s Zabuthiri township to hear six of the cases every Monday and Tuesday. The other case is being heard in Yangon.

Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and other leaders of Myanmar’s elected government were arrested unlawfully and slapped with various bogus charges, said the National Unity Government (NUG), a parallel administration made up of lawmakers ousted by the military in February, in a statement issued Wednesday.

The NUG also said that because the State Administration Council, the formal name of the junta government, is not legitimate, the courts formed by it are not legitimate.

Myanmar’s military has defended its government takeover, claiming without evidence that the NLD’s landslide victory in the country’s November 2020 elections was the result of voter fraud.

Authorities have responded to widespread protests against its coup with violent crackdowns that had killed 865 people as of Thursday, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a Thailand-based rights group.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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