The trial of Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi was poised to begin on Monday, as the junta that deposed her elected government rejected condemnation from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for its use of lethal force against demonstrators.
Myanmar has been in chaos since the military took control on February 1 and imprisoned Suu Kyi and other prominent members of her party, sparking daily demonstrations and clashes between the armed forces and ethnic minority guerilla forces and militias.
Suu Kyi, 75, is due to face trial on Monday on charges of breaching coronavirus regulations while campaigning for the election she won last November and also for possession of unlicensed walkie-talkies.
The first trial is expected to run until the end of July, her lawyer said.
Nobel laureate Suu Kyi also faces other more serious charges including intent to incite, breaching the official secrets act and charges for accepting $600,000 and 11.4 kg worth of gold from Yangon’s former chief minister.
Her legal team have denied any wrong doing by Suu Kyi and her chief lawyer Khin Maung Zaw called the most recent corruption charges “absurd”.
Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director, Human Rights Watch, said in a statement the charges Suu Kyi faced “are bogus, and politically motivated” and “should be dropped, resulting in her immediate and unconditional release.”
The army says it took power by force because Suu Kyi’s party won the election through voter fraud, an accusation rejected by the previous election commission and international monitors.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an activist organisation, Myanmar’s security forces have murdered at least 862 people in its crackdown on protesters since the coup, while the junta denies the figure.
According to social media posts, pro-democracy demonstrators flocked to the streets of Yangon’s major city on Monday, with some yelling “revolutionary war, we participate”
Some activists claimed they intended to hold a series of strikes and protests on Monday to commemorate Che Guevara’s birthday, a Latin American revolutionary.
onary who became an international icon after his death.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Friday that violence was intensifying and condemned the army’s “outrageous” use of heavy weapons.
Bachelet said the junta had shown no willingness to implement a five-point consensus it agreed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in April to halt violence and start dialogue with its opponents.
Myanmar’s junta-led ministry of foreign affairs criticised Bachelet’s comments in a press release, disputing the report’s veracity and impartiality.
“The report neither mentioned nor condemned the acts of sabotage and terrorism committed by the unlawful associations and terrorist groups as well as the sufferings and deaths of the security forces,” the report stated.
The junta has labelled a parallel National Unity Government formed by Suu Kyi supporters as a terrorist organisation and blamed it for bombings, arson, and assassinations.
Myanmar’s junta-controlled media on Monday accused an ethnic armed group of killing 25 construction workers in the east of the country after abducting a group of 47 people last month.
Reuters was unable to reach the Karen National Defence Organisation (KNDO) for comment on the accusation. The junta spokesman did not answer calls to seek further comment.