Suu Kyi, US reporter in the dock


THE renewed privation of Aung San Suu Kyi was reinforced on Monday (June 14) when she went on trial with distinct symptoms of being unwell.

“She seemed not very well but throughout the hearing she seemed quite interested and paid keen attention,” the head of her legal team, Khin Maung Zaw, said in a statement after the day’s hearing.

She faces a bevy of charges since being overthrown by the army in a coup on February 1, one that cut short a decade of tentative democratic reforms and has increasingly plunged the South-east Asian country into chaos.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi seemed not very well but throughout the hearing she seemed quite interested and paid keen attention,” the head of her legal team, Khin Maung Zaw, said in a statement after the day’s hearing.

Her supporters are emphatic that the charges are politically motivated and basically intended to end the political life of a person who championed democracy for decades under previous military administrations, much of the time under house arrest.

She is now in the dock in a decidedly spurious attempt to add salt to the wound.

Meanwhile, a US journalist detained in Myanmar since May appeared in a special court on Thursday, his employers said, where he faces charges under a law that criminalises encouraging dissent against the military.

Danny Fenster (pic), managing editor of the Frontier Myanmar news outlet, appeared in court “to face a charge under section 505-A of the Penal Code”, Frontier said in a statement.

He was later remanded to Yangon’s Insein Prison, it said, adding he was scheduled to appear again in court on July 1.

“No reason was given for the filing of the charge against him,” the statement said.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military seized power in a February 1 coup, with near-daily protests and a huge civil disobedience movement.

Fenster was detained on May 24 at the international airport in Yangon, Myanmar’s main city, as he tried to board a plane out of the country.

“We know that Danny has done nothing to warrant this 505-A charge,” Frontier said Thursday.

“We condemn his detention and demand his immediate and unconditional release.”

Fenster appeared in good health during his appearance, according to his lawyer, Frontier editor-in-chief Tom Kean told AFP.

More than 850 civilians have been killed across Myanmar in an ongoing military crackdown, according to a local monitoring group.

The press has been squeezed as the junta tries to tighten control over the flow of information, throttling internet access and revoking the licences of local media outlets.

The junta revised the 505-A law soon after the coup to include spreading “fake news” as a crime.

Journalist and US citizen Nathan Maung, who was detained by the junta in March and faced the same charge as Fenster, was released on Monday after the charges were dropped, and has left for the US.

The US State Department has said it is “deeply concerned” about Fenster, and demanded his release. — Agencies

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