YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s ruling military squared off against its opponents in the courts, the streets and the countryside Monday, showing no sign of relenting in its crackdown against those opposed to February’s coup.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who led the elected government toppled in the military takeover, was accused of a fresh criminal charge when she appeared by video link before a judge in the capital Naypyitaw on Monday, according to her lawyers.
Suu Kyi was accused of breaching a law intended to control the spread of the coronavirus, the second such charge against her under the same law. She is already facing charges of illegally importing walkie-talkies, unlicensed use of them, inciting public unrest and breaking the official secrets act.
The junta also has accused Suu Kyi of corruption and presented on state television what it said was evidence that she took bribes.
Suu Kyi’s supporters say the prosecutions are politically motivated tactics to try to legitimize the Feb. 1 coup and discredit her. The generals overthrew Suu Kyi’s government less than three months after she won a landslide victory in a general election and any conviction could see her banned from a future election.
The coup put a halt to the progress Myanmar had made toward greater democratization after five decades of military rule. The takeover and the bloody crackdown on opposition that has followed has led to calls for an arms embargo on the country and other international sanctions that could pressure the military into a return to more democratic rule.
As of Sunday, 706 protesters and bystanders have been verified as killed in the post-coup crackdown, said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which tracks casualties and arrests.
U.N. officials in Myanmar said they are “appalled by the violence since Friday in which some 93 protesters were reportedly killed, many of them in the city of Bago, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, adding that the U.N. team “is particularly concerned over reports of the use of heavy artillery against protesters.”