Aung San Suu Kyi has been remanded in custody for two weeks over allegations of having illegally imported walkie talkies, a spokesman for her political party said, two days after Myanmar’s military seized power from her civilian-run government in a coup.
She will remain in detention at her house in Naypyitaw, the nation’s capital, while authorities investigate, the spokesman, Win Htein, said.
The police document detailing the allegations was dated Feb. 1, when the country’s powerful military detained Ms. Suu Kyi in a predawn raid, hours before army-run television announced that the military chief had taken charge of the country. The obscure allegation was little more than a means to justify Ms. Suu Kyi’s detention, which shook the country and drew widespread global condemnation, experts and human-rights groups say.
The military and police didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The coup marked a sudden reversal of Myanmar’s fragile transition from military rule to democracy, which began about a decade ago. Myanmar’s military claims elections held in November, which were won by Ms. Suu Kyi’s party in a landslide, were marred by voter fraud. Election officials have denied the claims.
Ms. Suu Kyi, who opposed the generals for decades before the democratic transition began, spent 15 years under house arrest during that time. In 2009, she was already detained at her lakeside home when her sentence was extended over an incident involving a man who swam across the lake to meet her. Ms. Suu Kyi was charged with violating the terms of her house arrest, according to Human Rights Watch.
This time, the police document, seen by The Wall Street Journal, said soldiers had searched Ms. Suu Kyi’s house during the raid on Monday, where they found 10 walkie talkies authorities alleged had been illegally imported. Ms. Suu Kyi could be imprisoned for up to three years if she is found guilty.
Her party spokesman said ousted President Win Myint was also remanded. He was accused of violating a disaster-management law when he met with supporters at a campaign rally before the November polls.
“The military is using the laws as a means to continue to detain both Suu Kyi and Win Myint,” said John Quinley, a human-rights specialist for the Bangkok-based advocacy group Fortify Rights. “The coup is bringing Myanmar back to the dark days.”
A number of world leaders, including President Biden, have called on the army to immediately reverse course. But the army has said its actions are justified.
Prolonging Ms. Suu Kyi’s detention is likely to upset her supporters, who have already shown discontent over the coup. Her National League for Democracy party remains popular across the country, as reflected by the results of the November elections. The party won 396 of 476 seats contested.
“The army is doubling down,” said Laetitia van den Assum, a diplomatic expert and former Dutch ambassador. “They have a history of trying to use rule of law as a thin veneer to hide their real drivers.”
Write to Feliz Solomon at email@example.com
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