• Thursday, Jun 30, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

Suu Kyi's court hearing postponed over Myanmar internet block

  • Published at 12:08 pm March 15th, 2021
Anti coup protests Suu Kyi
A protester holds a poster with an image of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a candlelight vigil to honour those who have died during demonstrations against the military coup in Yangon on March 13, 2021.AFP

On Sunday, at least 44 protesters were killed as security forces cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrations

A block on mobile data networks across Myanmar on Monday scuppered a scheduled video court appearance by ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as protesters returned to the streets after the bloodiest day since the military coup six weeks ago.

At least 44 protesters were killed on Sunday as security forces cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrations, taking the death toll since the coup to more than 120, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group.

Myanmar has been in uproar since the putsch, with daily protests demanding a restoration of democracy despite the junta's increasingly forceful attempts to quell dissent.

The court hearing for Suu Kyi -- who spent more than 15 years under house arrest during previous military rule -- was scheduled for 0330 GMT in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw, but it was postponed until March 24, her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told AFP. 

"There's no court hearing because there's no internet and the hearing is conducted by video conference... We cannot do video," he said.

Myanmar authorities have throttled the internet every night for several weeks, normally restoring services in the morning, but monitoring service Netblocks said mobile data networks were kept offline on Monday.

Suu Kyi faces at least four charges: possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, breaching telecommunications laws, and intent to cause public unrest.

Military authorities have also accused her of accepting illegal payments of $600,000 in cash as well as a large quantity of gold -- allegations her lawyer says are "groundless."

Khin Maung Zaw had previously complained he was not allowed to meet Suu Kyi, who has been in custody since the coup, and on Monday said police have appointed two junior lawyers on his team to have the power of attorney.

Martial law

Suu Kyi's postponed hearing came a day after violent clashes between security forces and protesters, and the torching of several Chinese-owned factories in a textile-producing district of commercial hub Yangon as many protesters believe Beijing is supportive of the coup.

The AAPP on Monday said six more deaths had been confirmed to add to an overnight toll of 38, making on Sunday the deadliest single day since the military seized power.

Six Yangon townships were under martial law by morning -- anyone arrested there faces trial by military tribunal rather than civilian courts, with sentences ranging from three years' hard labour to execution.

But protesters were undeterred on Monday, with local media publishing images showing crowds gathering in Karen state and a sit-in protest in Myanmar's second-largest city Mandalay.

State-run television confirmed on Monday that a police officer was shot dead in the city of Bago, 60 kilometres northeast of Yangon, during a protest.

The Chinese embassy in Myanmar issued a statement condemning the actions of "destroyers" after the violence in Yangon's garment-producing townships, urging the police to "guarantee the security" of Chinese businesses.

Taiwan, meanwhile, advised its companies in Myanmar to fly the island's flag to avoid being targeted.

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