BANGKOK, Feb.17 (IBS) – Myanmar’s top generals have begun the process of preventing Aung San Suu Kyi – the country’s popular civilian leader – from assuming political power. She and President Win Myint were summoned in a closed court session via video link on Tuesday 16 February. This is the start of a trial that is expected to take around six months to complete. If convicted, she will bar Suu Kyi from running in future elections.
Suu Kyi was accused of violating import restrictions after wireless radios and other foreign equipment were found in her villa complex. They were discovered during a search of its headquarters on February 1, the day the army launched a coup, seizing all judicial, executive and legislative powers, and placing them in the hands of the Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief, General Min Aung Hlaing.
The Nobel Prize winner has also been accused of violating the Natural Disaster Management Act by interacting with a crowd at a campaign rally during the coronavirus pandemic. It is a charge that was added after her original arrest and was only revealed publicly at the hearing. Win Myint is responsible for breaking COVID-19 restrictions. that they It said Appeared without legal representation.
The coup leaders promised to hold elections sometime next year after the state of emergency they imposed was lifted. Authorities are still investigating more serious charges of receiving foreign money – which may amount to charges of high treason.
The military leaders also seem intent on preparing a case against its party – the National League for Democracy – in order to prevent it from practicing politics and declaring it an illegal organization. The National League for Democracy, which won an overwhelming majority in elections last November, remains a thorn in the side of the military, as in the past three weeks demonstrators have taken hundreds of thousands to the streets to defend democracy and reject the coup.
“The civil disobedience movement is a peaceful campaign launched by young doctors across the country: it was a popular reaction to the coup,” Thinzar Shunli Yi, a prominent activist who participated in the protest in Yangon, told IPS. “It grew daily as it inspired other civil servants to defend our democracy,” she added.
Protesters remain united in the face of the security forces tightening the noose. They face daily intimidation, threats, and harassment at the hands of police and soldiers in strategic centers to deter and disperse protests. But the forces, tanks and water cannons did not deter the daily protests. But the movement’s strength is that it includes all generations, ancient walks of life, civil servants and workers. All of them support democracy, although a large percentage of them also support the National League for Democracy.
“This is very different from the 1988 pro-democracy demonstrations when the student movement aspired to democracy but didn’t really know what it meant,” Nien Chan Aung, an 88-year-old veteran, told IPS. This time they know what they want, they know what to lose, and they’re very, very angry. ”
Meanwhile, the military is clearly on a mission to reform and restructure the country’s fledgling democracy, turning the clock back on the dark days of direct military rule.
During the past three weeks, the new military council has formed a new administration: from national and temporary to constituencies and wards. Removal of former office holders and appointment of persons close to the military.
The Supreme Court has changed, with previous NLD appointments abolished and replaced by judges loyal to their military masters. The Trade Union Election Commission was also fired and exchanged with military loyalists. Key ministries have also been targeted and infiltration of military officers and personnel, often at the highest levels. This was a common practice during the previous military regime. But public service has changed considerably in the past ten years with comprehensive public reform.
“The militarization of the bureaucracy is going on again, I fear,” a former diplomat told IPS on condition of anonymity. “In the past it destroyed civil servants’ morale, competence and expertise, and made the bureaucracy another arm of the military – stripped of initiative and thinking independently – rendering it incapable of doing anything but following orders and recreating a truly authoritarian state.”
But the junta also dealt a fatal blow to developing democratic ideals and practices, the worst of which were sweeping changes to new laws and decrees. Activists and human rights groups in Myanmar have condemned these measures as unacceptable and lead to a significant erosion of basic civil and human rights, especially changes to citizens’ protection and security laws.
These include a prisoner’s right to contact a lawyer – Suu Kyi has been denied access to her lawyer since her arrest in early February.
It also includes the right to hold prisoners indefinitely, the right to arrest people without a search warrant and unimpeded searches of homes by local officials, to carry out unrestricted surveillance, to intercept any form of communication, and to request user information from operators.
The government has also enacted a strict law on the internet that essentially gives them full access to digital information and all social media – with the right to sue anyone they deem to have crossed the line.
“The changes in laws amount to abolishing all rights to freedom of expression, association and freedom in addition to the rights associated with the rule of law and a fair trial,” Stephen McNamara, a British lawyer who has worked with lawyers in Myanmar since 2007, told IPS.
“These changes in the basic laws of Myanmar are broader than any amendments since the nineteenth century. It reflects an army that intends to remain in power for a very long time.”
The fact that the army launched the coup when it was unable to work its way clearly reflects the army’s mentality and priorities. They could not accept the landslide victory of the National League for Democracy in the elections – and the second time in five years.
They were shocked at the extent of their electoral victory and were counting on the ability to form some kind of coalition government with various parties, including their pro-military partners, ethnic political parties and even the National League for Democracy if they did not have a landslide victory.
The military predicts a political future in which the military will be an integral part of the political configuration – as integrated into the power and management structure as the way they see Thailand. In fact, the Commander in Chief is very fond of what he sees as a model – an important role for the military, in which its economic interests are protected, a self-sufficient economy, and a “democratic” outlook – that resists left, socialist, or communist tendencies. It is the concept of a pluralist democracy with no interest group having the dominant role or power.
Of course, the coup leaders also see the “road map to democracy” drawn up by former senior general Than Shwe – drawn up by the intelligence chief and then prime minister in 2003 – as the model to be followed. This put the final stage before a more liberal form of democracy as a coalition government of national unity. But the focus has always been on “directed democracy”. So while they try to turn the clock back to when the first elections were held – they actually took it back to the Dark Ages.
“Soldiers, police and hired thugs go out at night to wage war of terror against people – targeting prominent leaders of the protest movement – and carry out their campaign of intimidation, harassment and arrests,” Nian Chan Aung told IPS.
This differs from 1988, however, and new generations’ tactics supplied the demonstrators with weapons that would help defeat the army in the long run. Through mobile phones, the internet and social media, the civil disobedience movement is being heard around the world. The army’s tactics are doomed to failure this time. ”
Suu Kyi’s trial is expected to begin on March 1.
© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service