Burma

Detained Myanmar Leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Still Can’t Meet Lawyers in Person

By The Irrawaddy 26 April 2021

Myanmar’s ousted leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has not yet been allowed to meet her legal counsel in person, said one of her lawyers, Daw Min Min Soe.

The State Counselor has been under house arrest since the military seized power from her elected government in a Feb. 1 coup, and faces six counts. During a court hearing held via videoconferencing at Naypyitaw’s Zabuthiri Court on Monday, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi complained that she has not been allowed to meet her lawyers in person.

“She said she has asked many times to meet her lawyers in person. Even as additional charges have been filed against her, she has not been allowed to meet her lawyers in person,” Daw Min Min Soe said.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal defense team again asked the court for permission to meet with the country’s civilian leader. Police reportedly replied by telling the court they have presented her lawyers’ request to senior authorities.

The legal right to a lawyer, and to meet with them face to face, is enshrined in the military-drafted 2008 constitution and in the manuals of the police force and correctional facilities. Additionally, Article 11 of the UN’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights says anyone charged with a penal offense must have all the guarantees necessary for their defense, another of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers, U Khin Maung Zaw, told the court.

“Denying a client’s right to a lawyer amounts to denying their legal rights and rights as a citizen. Justice is compromised even as their rights enshrined in the constitution are denied,” U Khin Maung Zaw said.

The junta has filed six charges against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, all widely dismissed as trumped up. These comprise two under Article 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law for allegedly interacting with a crowd during the coronavirus pandemic; one under Article 8 of the Export and Import Law for alleged possession of unlicensed walkie-talkies and other foreign equipment; one under Article 67 of the Telecommunications Law; one under Article 505(b) of the Penal Code for sedition; and one under the Official Secrets Act at the Yangon Eastern District Court.

In another legal move seen as an attempt to justify its coup, the regime announced earlier that corruption probes against the State Counselor are under way. As part of this effort, the junta claims she accepted money and gold from the ousted Yangon chief minister and a businessman.

On March 31 she was allowed to meet her lawyers via video for the first time since her detention, and she seemed to be in good health, according to Daw Min Min Soe.

The next court hearing in her case is scheduled be held in Naypyitaw on May 10.

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