Aung San Suu Kyi in first public appearance since February arrest

Removed Myanmar leader appeared in court in the capital and seemed in good health, her lawyer said.

Aung San Suu Kyi sits in court with a female police officer behind her in her first public appearance since the February 1 coup
Myanmar's ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, former president Win Myint and doctor Myo Aung appear in court in Naypyidaw on May 24. It was Aung San Suu Kyi's first public appearance since she was arrested by the military when they seized power on February 1 [MRTV via Reuters]

Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi has appeared in public for the first time since she was detained and her government overthrown by the military in a February 1 coup, as she attended a 30-minute court hearing in the capital Naypyidaw.

The 75-year-old looked in good health and held a face-to-face meeting on Monday with her legal team before the hearing, lawyer Thae Maung Maung told the Reuters news agency. All her previous meetings have been via video link.

The hearing lasted about 30 minutes and security was tight, Frontier, a Myanmar magazine reported.

State media showed footage of the hearing, which also involved former president Win Myint and Myo Aung, a doctor and MP for the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) in its evening bulletin.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle to build democracy in the country but had faced more recent criticism over her failure to condemn the military’s brutal crackdown against the mostly Muslim Rohingya, is among more than 4,000 people who have been detained since the generals seized power.

She has been held under house arrest in Naypyidaw and faces a series of criminal charges including flouting coronavirus restrictions during last year’s election campaign, possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies and violating a state secrets law.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s court appearance comes as the generals battle continued resistance to their rule that includes a civil disobedience movement, mass protests and a newly-formed armed group that was set up in response to the military’s brutal crackdown on opposition to their coup.

The People’s Defence Force (PDF), made up of civilians armed largely with homemade weapons, claimed to have killed nearly two dozen members of the security forces during heavy fighting in Moebyel town in Shan State, and Demoso in neighbouring Kayah State where the army brought reinforcements and armoured vehicles, according to local media.

PDF member Thet Wai – not his real name – told the AFP news agency at least 20 police officers died on Sunday and the force seized a police station in Moebyel, which lies about 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of the capital Naypyidaw.

Anti-coup protests continue in different parts of Myanmar as people show their support for Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy [Dawei Watch via AFP]

The police station was burned down and rebel fighters also took four security force members into custody, local media reported.

Videos shared on social media showed what appeared to be the uniformed bodies of security forces and smoke pouring from the destroyed police post and a police vehicle.

Other pictures showed four men who were said to be police with their hands behind their backs, blindfolded with surgical masks.

The army seized power claiming fraud in an election won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD in a landslide in November. Its accusations had been dismissed by the former electoral commission.

Its new military-appointed members have suggested that the NLD be dissolved, a proposal that was condemned by the European Union on Sunday.

At her court appearance on Monday, Aung San Suu Kyi sought to reassure people that the NLD would continue.

“She said the party was formed for the people, so it will exist as long as the people exist,” lawyer Min Min Soe told Frontier.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies