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Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi Makes First Personal Court Appearance Since Coup

FILE - Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi waits to address judges of the International Court of Justice.
FILE - Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi waits to address judges of the International Court of Justice.

Aung San Suu Kyi made her first in-person court appearance Monday since she was deposed as Myanmar’s de facto leader in the February 1 military takeover.

Her lawyers told journalists in the capital Naypyitaw they were allowed to meet with Suu Kyi for 30 minutes before the hearing to discuss the case. They said the 75-year-old Nobel Peace laureate sounded and looked healthy, and wished the people of Myanmar good health.

Suu Kyi also issued a defiant message about her National League for Democracy party, saying “the people grew out of the people so it will exist as long as people support it.”

The lawyers also briefly met with ousted President Win Myint, who served in the government Suu Kyi led as state counsellor.

Suu Kyi has been detained since the coup. She is facing multiple criminal charges, the most serious an allegation that she accepted $600,000 in illegal payments. She has also been charged with the possession of unlicensed walkie-talkies, violating COVID-19 restrictions, breaching telecommunication laws and incitement to cause public unrest.

The civilian government was overthrown nearly three months after the NLD won parliamentary elections in a landslide. The junta has cited widespread electoral fraud in the November 8 election as a reason for the coup, an allegation the civilian electoral commission denied. The junta has threatened to dissolve the NLD over the allegations.

The coup triggered a crisis in the Southeast Asian country that led to deadly anti-junta demonstrations and clashes between several armed ethnic groups and the ruling junta.

In a campaign to quell the protests, the government has killed more than 800 protesters and bystanders since the takeover, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which tracks casualties and arrests.