Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in person in court on Monday for the first time since a military junta seized control of the country in the 1 February coup, and vowed that her political party would “exist as long as the people exist”.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner was detained earlier this year as the military displaced her democratically-elected government, and is facing charges including violating state secret laws and illegally possessing walkie-talkie radios.
The military junta has threatened to dissolve her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), after accusing it of widespread voter fraud in elections in November which saw the military’s party heavily defeated. Independent observers have said the election was largely fair.
On Monday, the ousted leader met five lawyers for 30 minutes.
The lawyers also met the ousted President Win Myint and Myo Aung, the detained chairman of the Naypyidaw Council.
Military spokesperson Zan Min Tun told the media that her court hearing took place at a special court set up near her house in the capital Naypyidaw from 10.30am in the morning.
“The main thing (she said) is that she always wishes good health and well-being for all the people, and she also said that since the NLD was founded for the people, the NLD will exist as long as the people exist,” Min Min Soe told the Associated Press after the hearing.
“She looks fresh, healthy and full of confidence,” she added.
She is facing charges for illegally importing walkie-talkies, flouting coronavirus restrictions, spreading information that fanned social unease, and receiving $600,000 and gold from the then chief minister of the Yangon Region, Kyodo News reported.
Her lawyers have said that all charges against her are fabricated.
Since the ouster of the elected government in Myanmar, the country has been plunged into a deep political crisis with pro-democracy protests and rallies and a civil disobedience movement throwing the country into chaos and turmoil. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Myanmar, at least 818 people have been killed by Myanmar’s security forces since the February coup.
More than 4,000 people including members of the NLD have been detained by the military junta since the coup. Many celebrities, including more recently the Miss Universe Myanmar contestant Thuzar Wint Lwin have voiced concern for their country.
Ms Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since 1 February. She has not had any access to the newspapers or any information regarding what is happening in the country, her lawyers have said. Her lawyers had struggled to gain access to her for weeks.
In preparation for Ms Suu Kyi’s court hearing, there was a heavy security presence in the capital Naypyidaw. There were reports of police trucks blocking off the road leading up to the special court.
The next hearing is set to be on 7 June.