Aung San Suu Kyi lawyer insists she is just ‘tired’ amid health concerns

Aung San Suu Kyi lawyer insists she is just ‘tired’ amid health concerns
The former leader has been charged with offences such as breaking Covid protocols, incitement to cause public alarm and violating the Official Secrets Act

The lawyer for Myanmar’s former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has dismissed recent concerns about her health, saying she is just tired because of her frequent court appearances.

The 76-year old is on trial and attending court sessions in multiple cases since the 1 February military coup. The ousted leader first went on trial in June, four months after she was taken into custody during the coup. Since then, there have been months of protests, which triggered a heavy-handed response from the ruling junta.

On Monday, Ms Suu Kyi asked judges to reduce the frequency of hearings, to every two weeks instead of weekly. “She is tired. At her age, it is not convenient to sit for hearings every day of the whole week,” her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told Reuters. “She does not have any disease nor specified sickness. It is not a concerning situation.”

There have been concerns about her health since last month, when Ms Suu Kyi failed to appear before the court. She had complained of dizziness and said she was feeling unwell on 13 September, but her legal team dismissed it as motion sickness.

Ms Suu Kyi has been charged with an array of offences, including breaking coronavirus protocols, illegally importing and possessing two-way radios, incitement to cause public alarm and violating the Official Secrets Act. The cases are being handled by courts in several cities and her supporters suspect that lengthy legal proceedings could tie her up for several years.

Last week, corruption charges were levelled against the Nobel laureate, forcing her to appear most weekdays at a courtroom in the military-built capital Naypyidaw.

In a hearing at the Naypyidaw Council compound, Ms Suu Kyi was accused of breaching the anti-corruption law in four cases, including accepting packets of US banknotes and gold bars in bribes from Yangon’s former chief minister Phyo Min Thein. If convicted, she could be sentenced to 15 years in prison under the anti-corruption law.

Andrew Kirkwood, United Nations’ top humanitarian official in Myanmar, said on 30 September that 20 million people in the country were living in extreme poverty – levels that had not been seen for at least 20 years. The number of people in the country needing aid has tripled to 3 million since the military takeover, he said.

According to UN estimates, more than 1,100 people have been killed since the coup and over 8,000 people have been arrested by the junta. At least 120 have reportedly died in custody.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a report to the general assembly last week said that a coordinated international approach was needed to respond to “grave humanitarian implications, including rapidly deteriorating food security, an increase in mass displacements and a weakened public health system compounded by a new wave of Covid-19 infections”.

He called for the release of all people who have been arbitrarily detained.

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