Yangon Region authorities have barred a lawyer who is part of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s defense team from talking to the media, foreign diplomats and international NGOs, saying that her comments affect the stability of Myanmar.
Daw San Mar Lar Nyunt, a Yangon-based lawyer, was taken from a relative’s home on Friday by district and township officials and police. She was then forced to sign a document pledging that, “she would not talk to both domestic and foreign media, foreign diplomats and international non-governmental organizations”, according to another Yangon-based lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The letter was witnessed by the administrator of Yangon’s Kyauktada Township, as well as the district administrator.
However, other lawyers in Yangon and Naypyitaw who are part of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s defense team said they have not been similarly warned.
“We haven’t been warned as such,” said U Khin Maung Zaw, a Naypyitaw advocate who is part of the ousted State Counselor’s defense team.
U Kyi Win, another member of the defense team, also said that he hadn’t been told to stop talking to the media or others.
Daw San Mar Lar Nyunt declined to say why she had been singled out except to state, “I was told that my words hurt the stability of the country”.
Until now, Daw San Mar Lar Nyunt has been a media-friendly lawyer who shared the progress of the trials after each hearing. She referred journalists to other lawyers on the defense team for questions related to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s ongoing cases.
The anonymous Yangon lawyer who revealed the gagging of Daw San Mar Lar Nyunt said everyone has the right to free speech under the 2008 Constitution, which was drafted by a former military regime.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was detained by the military in the early morning of Feb. 1, just hours before their coup. She faces trials on five charges, including alleged possession of illegal walkie-talkies, breaching COVID-19 restrictions and sedition. The State Counselor has also been charged with corruption and breaching the Official Secrets Act.
Her trials have been postponed since the junta extended a period of public holidays until August 15, in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus infections.
While under house arrest, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was able to meet her lawyers for the first time on March 31. She made her first in-person appearance at a Naypyitaw court on May 24. From June 7 to July 13, her lawyers met her on Monday and Tuesday every week.
As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has not met her defense team for four weeks since the junta extended the public holidays, the current state of her health is unknown. Her lawyers relay information about her condition, thoughts on the trials and her concerns for the general public amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.
“We have no chance to meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi this week,” said U Khin Maung Zaw on Monday.
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