The police in Myanmar have filed several charges against deposed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi after the military seized power in a coup against her democratically elected government, BBC reported on Wednesday.
The charges against Suu Kyi include breaching import and export laws and possession of unlawful communication devices, including walkie-talkies found at her home in Nay Pyi Taw. She was remanded in custody “to question witnesses, request evidence and seek legal counsel after questioning the defendant”, according to a police document submitted to a court. The documents also show that Suu Kyi has been remanded in custody till February 15, but her whereabouts are still unclear.
Deposed President Win Myint has been charged with violating rules that banned gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, the documents showed. He is accused of meeting supporters in a motorcade during the election campaign. He is also detained for two weeks.
The country’s military had on Monday staged a takeover and detained several leaders of the country’s ruling National League for Democracy. On Tuesday, Myanmar Army Chief General Min Aung Hlaing justified the takeover, saying the ouster of Suu Kyi’s government was inevitable, AFP reported.
“After many requests, this way was inevitable for the country and that’s why we had to choose it,” the general said during the first Cabinet meeting. He said that the takeover was “in line with the law” after the government did not respond to its grievances about alleged electoral fraud.
General Aung Hlaing has been given “legislative, judicial and executive powers”, pushing Myanmar back to military rule after 10 years.
Meanwhile, the United States has formally designated the takeover as a coup. The US’ State Department said it had assessed that “Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of [Myanmar’s] ruling party, and Win Myint, the duly elected head of government, were deposed in a military coup.”
This implies that the US cannot assist the Myanmar government. However, the impact will mainly be symbolic as almost all assistance from the US goes to non-governmental entities. The military was already under US sanctions for targeting the Rohingya minority.
Citizens in Myanmar protest coup
Activists in Myanmar have called for a civil disobedience. “The civil disobedience is one of the tactics that the young people in Myanmar are now launching a campaign across the whole country,” Yangon Youth Network founder Thinzar Shunlei told BBC. “They’re calling for action especially from the civil servants, to stop working for the government, for the military junta.”
On Tuesday, scores of people in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, honked car horns and banged on pots and pans as a part of public resistance to the coup, AP reported. “Beating a drum in Myanmar culture is like we are kicking out the devils,” said one of the participants, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisals.
The event, originally planned for a few minutes, extended to about fifteen minutes in several neighbourhoods of the city. This came after a call from several pro-democracy groups. Myanmar, however, is largely calm as troops are on patrol and night curfew is imposed, according to BBC.
Suu Kyi, 75, had come to power in a landslide victory, winning 83% of available seats in the November 2015 election that many saw as a referendum to her civilian government. This was the second election since the end of military rule in Myanmar in 2011. But the country’s military disputed the results from the beginning.
The military’s electoral proxy, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, demanded a new election be supervised. Last week, General Min Aung Hlaing had threatened to abolish the country’s Constitution.
Myanmar’s Election Commission has rejected the military’s allegations of vote fraud, saying there were no errors big enough to affect the credibility of polls.