Aung San Suu Kyi Charged And Held as Doctors Mount Civil Disobedience Drive Against Myanmar Army Coup

2021-02-03
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Aung San Suu Kyi Charged And Held as Doctors Mount Civil Disobedience Drive Against Myanmar Army Coup People give a three-finger salute after calls for protest went out on social media in Yangon, as Myanmar's ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi was formally charged, Feb. 3, 2021.
AFP

Deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been remanded in custody on obscure import law charges, her party’s spokesman said Wednesday as citizens and health workers stepped up a campaign against Monday’s military takeover in the multi-ethnic nation of 54 million people.

The 75-year-old leader will be held until at least Feb. 15 on charges relating to the alleged import and ownership of illegal walkie-talkies, Kyi Toe, a spokesperson for her National League for Democracy, said on his Facebook page. President Win Myint was charged with violating natural disaster management laws.

"According to reliable information, a 14 day arrest warrant was issued against Daw Aung San Su Kyi under the Import and Export Law," he wrote.

In another sign of tightening controls since the junta took control on Monday, a spokesperson for Facebook said late Wednesday that access to the social media site is "currently disrupted for some people."

"We urge authorities to restore connectivity so that people in Myanmar can communicate with their families and friends and access important information," said the spokesperson.

On Tuesday the army unveiled an 11-member “State Administration Council” headed by coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who took charge of legislative, administrative, and judiciary powers early Monday, hours before Myanmar’s newly elected parliament was to open.

After a yearlong state of emergency and re-examination of voter lists the army claims produced fraud in the November 8 vote, new elections will be held, the junta leader said.

In response to a call Tuesday by the NLD to release all the detainees, including Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint, and to respect the 2020 election results, authorities in the Naypyidaw gave some 400 elected MPs 24 hours to vacate their  government housing, several lawmakers said.

“This morning at 10 am they asked to leave within 24 hours,” said Aung Kyi Nyunt, an upper house MP.

“Previously they allowed us to go within 48 hours, then it was 24 hours. In fact, it’s giving us pressure,” he said.

Win Myint, who was detained in the coup, will be moved from the Presidential Residence to another house, while deposed NLD ministers and deputy ministers have to move out from their official residences within three days, party spokesman Kyi Toe wrote on Facebook.

Aung San Suu Kyi was not asked to move out their residence in Naypyidaw, Kyi Toe said.

Across Myanmar, citizens have begun a nightly ritual banging of pots and pans and beeping car horns to register opposition to the coup.

Seventeen groups, including the University Student Alumni group, launched the campaign on social media on Tuesday, as anger at the coup set in.

“The public does not accept the coup. It was against all existing laws. It was just an act of bullying using arms,” said a former student who wished remain anonymous for safety reasons.

“So we are driving out this coup as if we were driving evil spirits from a village. We are sending the message that this evil act has to be gone,” the student told RFA.

Pot-banging sessions erupted in large cities including Mandalay, Yangon, Magway, Monywa, Sagaing and Taunggyi.

“We started hitting metal pots and utensils from one household to another, from one block to another—it spread very fast. In our quarter, almost the entire quarter was participating. We will be doing it because we cannot accept the new regime,” said a local resident in Magway.

Monday’s coup has also inspired a civil disobedience movement and work stoppages among government staff, mainly in health care.

“Surgeons and nurses have already taken civil disobedience (walkouts). We cannot do operations without them,” said an orthopedic surgeon in Mandalay.

“Physicians also are not coming to the hospital, so it will be difficult for the rest to treat patients,” the doctor added. “We have to leave them, feeling great sorrow, but because we want to fight military dictators – we cannot avoid it.”

A Civil Disobedience Movement on Facebook has linked up more than 70 hospitals in some 30 townships with specialists, doctors, nurses, dental surgeons, pharmacists and other health workers.

The medical work stoppage comes as Myanmar is grappling with the coronavirus epidemic.

“There are more than 10,000 patients in the hospitals--about 1100 in Yangon and Mandalay, 300 to 400 in Mon, Magwe and Arawaddy divisions,” said Dr. Khin Khin Gyi, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases.

“Doctors have been doing their best to manage.”

In a movement to resist the coup spreading in to Yangon, Mandalay, and the regions or state of Tanninthyi, Chin, and Rakhine, doctors and health workers are wearing red ribbons saying “The NLD is our only government”.

 “Although I want to join the civil disobedience movement, I‘ve chosen the red ribbon campaign because of my emergency patients.” said Moe Thida Linn, a doctor at a Mandalay hospital.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by San San Tin, Maung Maung Nyo, and Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English Paul Eckert.

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