Myanmar’s detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has condemned the junta’s gag orders on her lawyers, which bar them from speaking publicly about the progress of her trials, urging them to file complaints.
The military regime has banned all five members of the State Counselor’s legal team from speaking to the media. The gag order was first imposed after the head of her defense team revealed details of President U Win Myint’s court testimony in mid-October, during which he said that the Myanmar military had threatened to force him to resign during the February 1 coup.
The ousted president’s testimony made headlines in local and international media, as it appeared to confirm the illegality of the military takeover.
In an attempt to justify the gag orders, the junta said that the lawyers could destabilize the country with their comments to the media. However, it is a principle of Myanmar’s legal system that court cases are not held in secret.
The junta-controlled General Administrative Department issued the most recent gag order on October 26, prior to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s court hearing earlier this week. The order caused an information blackout on all Myanmar’s most high profile legal cases.
A source said that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was aware of the gagging orders on her lawyers.
“She said that the lawyers have the legal right to make a complaint to the relevant organizations,” he quoted Suu Kyi as saying.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Win Myint have been detained at undisclosed locations in Naypyitaw since their arrest following the coup.
Suu Kyi faces 11 charges including the alleged possession of imported walkie-talkies, sedition, alleged violation of COVID-19 restrictions and corruption. The potential prison sentence for all the cases is 102 years.
Lawyers and legal analysts have condemned the gagging orders as an illegal violation of the fundamental judicial right to an open trial.
U Khin Maung Myint, a legal adviser, recently told The Irrawaddy that, “citizens have the right to see, know and hear that every stage of the trial is fair and legal. By prohibiting lawyers from informing the public about trials, the administrative branch is exerting influence over the judicial branch. It is a very disgraceful and ugly act.”
Both U Win Myint and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi are appearing weekly at a special court in Naypyitaw to answer the cases filed against them.
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