Myanmar’s military regime has charged at least 100 elected leaders, ministers and prominent members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) with high treason, corruption and incitement over the past seven months, as the junta steps up its efforts to destroy the party.
Senior NLD figures who have been arrested and charged since the military’s February 1 coup include at least four government ministers, 10 chief ministers, 30 ministers of state and regional cabinets, 44 elected lawmakers and members of party offices nationwide, and seven other senior party members.
There are 93 political parties in Myanmar, but the NLD is the only one that has been targeted by the military regime.
Most notably, the junta has brought various charges against ousted State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint in an effort to keep them behind bars for years.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi faces a total of 10 cases and a potential prison sentence of 75 years in total. The junta has accused her of accepting cash and gold, as well as of abusing her authority and funds donated to a charity foundation she leads.
She also faces charges for the illegal possession of walkie-talkies, breaching COVID-19 restrictions, incitement and one case under the Official Secrets Act.
Myanmar’s military detained Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and other senior officials of the NLD-led government before dawn on the day of the coup. Chief ministers of the states and regions, parliamentary speakers at union and state and regions level were also detained during the takeover, along with other senior leaders and members of the NLD’s Central Executive Committee (CEC).
Coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has claimed that the coup was staged because the NLD committed “election fraud” during the 2020 general election that the NLD won by a landslide. The results of the election have since been annulled and the party faces the possibility of being disbanded.
NLD members continue to face arrest, including those who won seats in the 2020 election. Several detained party members have been killed while in detention. Numerous members face arrest warrants and have gone into hiding, while NLD offices have been raided, vandalized and forced to close.
Over 300 NLD leaders, ministers, elected lawmakers and other members at party offices are currently being detained.
The four detained ministers of the NLD-led government have been accused of violating the Official Secrets Act and the Anti-Corruption Law.
U Win Myat Aye, the ousted Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, and ousted Upper House Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than have been charged with corruption and high treason respectively. Both were re-elected in the 2020 election.
Since the coup, U Win Myat Aye has been made the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management for the shadow National Unity Government (NUG), while Mahn Win Khaing Than has been appointed as NUG prime minister.
Corruption charges have also been brought against NLD ministers and officials who were renowned for their good reputations while in office and who enjoyed the support of the general public.
Of the 13 chief ministers who are still being detained, nine have been accused of bribery, abuse of their authority and embezzlement of public funds under the Anti-Corruption Law, all charges that carry long prison terms. One chief minister has also been charged with incitement. The other chief ministers are likely to be charged soon.
Members of the NLD’s CEC face harsher charges.
Detained NLD vice-chairman Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, who is also the Mandalay Region Chief Minister, has been charged with alleged corruption, incitement and breaching of COVID-19 restrictions.
Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, who has blood cancer, caught coronavirus while being detained in Mandalay’s Obo Prison and was put on oxygen support.
On June 7, the Magwe Chief Minister Dr. Aung Moe Nyo, who is also a member of the CEC, was sentenced to two years in prison on an incitement charge. He was accused of publishing statements saying that the junta’s State Administration Council is not an official government.
The ousted chief minister also faces corruption charges along with three ministers of his cabinet.
Around 50 ousted ministers, advocate generals and auditor generals of state and regional cabinets are also still being detained. At least 30 of them face charges such as corruption, incitement, violating COVID-19 restrictions and disobeying military regime orders.
NLD CEC members U Nyan Win, U Han Thar Myint, U Thein Oo, U Mya Thein, the party’s patron U Win Htein, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s personal physician Dr. Tin Myo Win and the party spokespersons, Dr. Myo Nyunt and Monywa Aung Shin, were also arrested by the junta. They have been charged with sedition and incitement.
79-year-old U Nyan Win, who was also Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s long-time personal lawyer, died of COVID-19 on July 20 while being detained in Yangon’s Insein Prison, where he caught coronavirus.
At least 13 NLD members, including the Bago Region parliamentary speaker and elected lawmakers, have been sentenced to two to three years in prison, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
NLD CEC member U Aung Kyi Nyunt, who chairs the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), said the arrests and charges against NLD members are a plot to ensure that the regime illegally wins the next general election.
U Aung Kyi Nyunt is the subject of arrest warrants for sedition and other charges, along with other NLD leaders, members and other anti-regime forces and ethnic minorities who managed to evade arrest and form the CPRH and the NUG to oppose the junta.
The number of detained NLD members is rising as the regime continues to crackdown on the party across the country.
In the last month alone, at least 38 NLD members, including elected lawmakers and chiefs and members of state and region offices at the township and ward level have been arrested. Youth members of the NLD have also been detained.
Regime-controlled media has stated that those arrested will be prosecuted for supporting the Civil Disobedience Movement and the NUG, as well as supplying civilian resistance fighters with food and financial aid.
“As the junta knows, there is no way the military can compete against the most popular party so they are trying to eliminate the NLD before holding an election,” U Aung Kyi Nyunt told The Irrawaddy in June.
“But that won’t be possible as it is has been clear from the beginning that this is not fair and that the people won’t accept it,” he added.
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