Myanmar’s ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was hit with more charges Monday, as protesters returned to the streets in a show of defiance following the deadliest day since the military seized power in a coup in early February.
Suu Kyi appeared in a court hearing via video conference where she was charged with two more counts. One under Myanmar’s colonial-era penal code prohibiting publishing information that may “cause fear or alarm,” and another under a telecommunications law stipulating licenses for equipment, her lawyer said according to Reuters.
Suu Kyi, who has not been seen by the public or her lawyers since she was detained, appeared to be in good health, lawyer Min Min Soe told Reuters. He added that she had requested to see her legal team during the hearing.
A total of four charges have been leveled at Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy Party (NLD) won a landslide in November 2020 elections, which the military used as a pretext for seizing power. She has also been charged in relation to a national disaster law and an earlier count under the country’s import and export act.
Min Min Soe told Reuters that Suu Kyi’s next hearing would be March 15.
The reappearance of Suu Kyi came as protesters rebuilt barricades and stared down security forces in the wake of Sunday’s violence. Video showed many protesters marching in southeastern Dawei city, where at least three people were killed Sunday.
In Yangon, protesters dragged bamboo scaffolding, tires and other debris into the roads to form barricades as they chanted slogans. Local media Myanmar Now reported that security forces used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protesters in two townships Monday.
Human rights activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi said the violent crackdown would not deter protesters.
“The bloodshed made the resistance stronger, determined and united more than ever. So it is truly counterproductive,” she said.
Security forces opened fire on pro-democracy protesters on Sunday, using tear gas, flash bangs and stun grenades in towns and cities across Myanmar.
At least 21 people have been killed in Myanmar since the February 1 coup, including 18 people on Sunday alone, while hundreds more have been injured, according to the United Nations. Activist groups have put the death toll and number of injured as higher.
Images from across the country Sunday showed bodies lying in pools of blood on the streets, the injured frantically carried away with bullet wounds peppering their limbs, and protesters huddled behind makeshift shields.
The UN Human Rights Office said that “deaths reportedly occurred as a result of live ammunition fired into crowds” in multiple locations, including the largest city Yangon, in Dawei, Mandalay, southern Myeik, central Bago and Pokokku, according to a statement from spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani.
The statement condemned the “escalating violence” and urged the military junta to “immediately halt the use of force against peaceful protesters,” saying that “the people of Myanmar have the right to assemble peacefully and demand the restoration of democracy.”