Myanmar issues gagging order to Aung San Suu Kyi′s lawyer | News | DW | 15.10.2021

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Myanmar issues gagging order to Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyer

Khin Maung Zaw says he has been barred from publicly speaking about Aung San Suu Kyi's trial proceedings. Authorities say his communications could cause instability.

Khin Maung Zaw, a lawyer assigned by the National League for Democracy party to represent deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, speaks to journalists in Naypyitaw in May 2021

Khin Maung Zaw was made to sign a document preventing him from providing information to the media

The primary lawyer representing Myanmar's ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi in her multiple trials said on Friday that authorities in the military-ruled country had imposed a gag order on him.

Khin Maung Zaw had been the sole source of public information about Suu Kyi's court appearances and her wellbeing.

"My mouth is under 144," he wrote, referring to the use of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure — a British colonial-era law normally used to restrict public gatherings and impose curfews.

The lawyer will now be barred from talking about those cases to the media, diplomats, international organizations and foreign governments, he said in a Facebook post.

He later posted details of the order.

"Khin Maung Zaw's communications may cause harassment, hurting a person who is acting in accordance with the law, may cause riots and destabilize the public peace," the order said.

"Some local and foreign media outlets, illegal media outlets, and the media are inciting fake information that could destabilize the country."

Demonstrators protest against the military coup and demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon

Aung San Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since the February 1 coup in Myanmar

Cut off from the world

Suu Kyi has been kept at an undisclosed location since the military junta deposed her in a February 1 coup.

She has no means of communicating with the outside world except through her lawyers, who she only meets in court.

The court sessions are closed to reporters and the public. The new gag order will likely choke off any firsthand accounts of the court proceedings.

"The military council now is blocking one lawyer after another," said Kyi Win, another lawyer on Suu Kyi's legal team.

"We do not know what will happen next," he told the Associated Press.

Suu Kyi has been charged with a litany of offenses, the most serious of which is corruption — for which she could face 15 years in prison — and violating the Official Secrets Act, which is punishable by a maximum sentence of 14 years.

Her supporters and independent observers say the charges against her have been concocted to legitimize the military takeover.

Suu Kyi led a civilian government after her National League for Democracy party swept a 2015 election that was called after the military stepped back from half a century of direct rule.

adi/rc (Reuters, AP)

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