Following a military coup earlier this month, police in Myanmar have brought new charges against the country’s former democratically-elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
The State Counsellor of Myanmar, Suu Kyi was deposed of her leadership and detained during a coup on February 1. She was initially charged with illegally possessing walkie-talkies, but on Tuesday, while still in custody, new charges were levied that could keep her detained indefinitely.
Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Khan Maung Zaw, expressed uncertainty moving forward, stating in a phone interview with AFP, “We hope for the best but are prepared for the worst,” continuing to say, “In this country anything can happen.”
The new government alleges that Suu Kyi violated state-wide coronavirus restrictions last year when she hosted a campaign event, citing Article 25 of the National Disaster Management Law. The violation carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison, but due to changes in the penal code, could allow the state to hold individuals indefinitely.
The military coup, or junta, commenced in response to Suu Kyi’s overwhelming November election victory, which saw her National League for Democracy Party reelected to its second term.
On Feb. 1, before the start of the new parliament and under the guise of unsupported claims of election fraud, the military detained several senior members of the NLD, including Suu Kyi, and went on to declare a year-long state of emergency. The junta has since instituted harsh crackdowns on dissent, including Chinese-style internet censorship.
In response, protests calling for a return to democracy have erupted across the country and officials from around the world have condemned the actions of the military, with the UN warning of “severe consequences.”
For their part, the military government has said Suu Kyi is being confined for her own safety and promised “to hand power back to the winning party” following a new election for which no date was provided.