A Myanmar court has filed fresh charges against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, her lawyer has said, as protesters marched in defiance of a crackdown by security forces.
The leader of the National League for Democracy appeared via video link for a court hearing on Monday.
An additional charge of prohibiting the publication of information that may “cause fear or alarm” or disrupt “public tranquillity” was added to those filed against her after a coup a month ago, her lawyer Min Min Soe told Reuters.
Another charge relating to her alleged ownership of walkie-talkies was added under a telecommunications law, the lawyer said, taking the total number of charges against her to four.
As the court hearing took place, police in the city of Yangon used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protesters, witnesses said, a day after the worst violence since the coup.
There were no immediate reports of any casualties on Monday but the previous day, police opened fire on crowds in various parts of the country killing 18 people – the highest single-day death toll to date.
The UN Human Rights office said they “strongly condemn the escalating violence” and called on the military to “immediately halt the use of force against peaceful protestors.”
About 1,000 people are believed to have been detained. The military has not commented on Sunday’s violence.
The UK has described the “deadly and escalating” violence against demonstrators as “abhorrent”.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan issued a statement saying the US is “alarmed” by the violence and stands in solidarity with protesters “who continue to bravely voice their aspirations for democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights”.
Washington has imposed sanctions on Myanmar because of the coup, and Mr Sullivan said it would “impose further costs on those responsible”, promising details “in the coming days”.
Ms Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since her government was ousted in a military coup on 1 February and she was detained, along with other party leaders.
The 75-year-old was initially charged with illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios but later, a charge of violating a natural disaster law by breaching coronavirus protocols was added.
The next court hearing will be on 15 March.
If she is convicted, the charges against her could provide a legal way of barring her from running in the election the junta has promised in a year’s time. She also faces a prison sentence.
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