Myanmar’s ousted president Win Myint faces 2 new charges, says lawyer

YANGON (REUTERS, AFP) – Myanmar’s ousted President Win Myint is facing two new charges, his lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said on Wednesday (March 3), including a breach of the constitution that is punishable by up to three years on prison.  

Win Myint was arrested on Feb 1 along with Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi just hours before the military seized power in a coup.

Win Myint is also facing charges over violating protocols to stop the spread of the coronavirus.  Lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said Win Myint’s trial date is not known.

Ms Suu Kyi, who was already facing obscure criminal charges for possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies, as well as violating coronavirus restrictions by staging a campaign event during last year’s election, was on Monday hit with two new criminal charges.

She was accused of breaching communications laws as well as intent to incite public unrest.

Separately, Myanmar state media on Wednesday said the military-appointed foreign minister had attended a meeting of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean), which “exchanged views on regional and international issues”.

The report in the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper made no mention of the purpose of the special meeting, or elaborate on what was discussed by the regional foreign ministers.

It said the Myanmar minister “apprised the meeting of voting irregularities” in last year’s election, and the military government’s plans.

Foreign ministers from the 10-member Asean bloc held a virtual meeting on Tuesday which included a Myanmar representative.

Some regional powers broke with diplomatic convention and issued unusually harsh rebukes of Myanmar’s junta.

“To use lethal force against civilians and unarmed demonstrators, I think it is just not acceptable,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the BBC.

After the meeting, Indonesia’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi expressed concern over rising violence and deaths as well as frustration over a lack of cooperation from the Myanmar regime.

“It takes two to tango,” she said, calling for the restoration of democracy and the release of political detainees.

Philippines foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin said the first step should be the immediate release of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi.

“The hurt of the small finger is felt by the whole body. Myanmar is not a small finger but a big part of the two hands that together make up the family of ASEAN 10,” he said.

Demonstrators hold placards and display banners calling for the release of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint in Yangon, on Feb 20, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

Meanwhile on Tuesday, state media also reported that the authorities have released 511 people in detention.

State-broadcaster MRTV said late Tuesday that 511 people in detention had been released in Yangon.

Reporters Without Borders says at least 10 journalists are in jail and 26 have been arrested since the coup.

Meanwhile, Britain has called for the United Nations Security Council to meet on Friday (March 5) on Myanmar as security forces have steadily become more violent against anti-coup demonstrators.

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