Myanmar military extends detention of Aung Sang Suu Kyi

Monday, February 15
Newsday and Agencies

Myanmar’s military leaders have extended their detention of ousted leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi until Wednesday. 

The military detained Suu Kyi on charges of illegally possessing imported walkie-talkie radios two weeks ago as it seized power.  She is being held under house arrest at her official residence in the capital, Naypyitaw. 

Her original detention order was due to expire Monday, but a lawyer representing Suu Kyi said a judge extended it until Wednesday.

The move comes as protesters gathered again Monday in multiple parts of Myanmar, while troops and military vehicles were deployed amid an increased security presence in major cities.

Authorities also cut off internet access overnight. 

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said such restrictions, and the arrests of political and civil society leaders “are deeply concerning.” 

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the situation in Myanmar, including the increasing use of force and the reported deployment of additional armored vehicles to major cities,” a Guterres spokesman said in a statement Sunday.  “He calls on Myanmar’s military and police to ensure the right of peaceful assembly is fully respected and demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals. Reports of continued violence, intimidation and harassment by security personnel are unacceptable.”

In a joint statement, ambassadors to Myanmar from the United States, Canada and 12 European Union nations also denounced the military’s interruption of communications and expressed their support for the people of Myanmar, saying “the world is watching.” 

“We call on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government,” the ambassadors said late Sunday.  “We unequivocally condemn the detention and ongoing arrests of political leaders, civil society activists, and civil servants, as well as the harassment of journalists.” 

Protesters Sunday at a power plant in the northern state of Kachin were met with gunfire by security forces.  Videos from the protest show members of the military firing into crowds to disperse them, but it was not clear whether the bullets were rubber or live ammunition.  

In addition to protests, government employees and civil servants are on strike, resulting in disruption of train services throughout the country. The military has ordered civil servants back to work and threatened action against them.  

The military has arrested protesters en masse nightly since demonstrations began. On Saturday, leaders gave the military sweeping powers to search private property.  

The military used claims of election fraud, which were rejected by the country’s election commission, as justification for the February 1 coup, its declaration of a one-year state of emergency and subsequent detention of Suu Kyi and senior members of the civilian government.  

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who led the coup, promised last week in a nationally televised speech that new elections would be held to bring a "true and disciplined democracy,” but did not specify when they would take place.      

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have filled the streets of Myanmar’s biggest cities in defiance of a strict curfew and a ban on gatherings of more than four people, holding signs with pro-democracy slogans, many of them with pictures of Suu Kyi.