Aung San Suu Kyi charged with violating import laws in Myanmar

Aung San Suu Kyi, the ousted leader of Myanmar’s civilian government, was charged Wednesday with illegally importing communications equipment, two days after the military seized power in what the US has termed a coup.

She is being held until at least February 15 on charges of alleged possession of illegal walkie-talkies, according to a police statement from Reuters. NBC News was unable to verify the police statement.

Kyi Toe, a spokesman for Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, confirmed the charges on his Facebook page. He added that the country’s president, Win Myint, who was also jailed on Monday, was charged with violating natural disaster management laws.

The military arrested Suu Kyi and other officials and declared a one-year state of emergency on Monday, the day before the legislature began a new term.

The news comes when the country’s health workers announced they would not support the new government and wore red ribbons to show their opposition. On Tuesday evening, people across Myanmar beat pots and pans and honked car horns as a sign of civil disobedience to the military junta.

Suu Kyi on Monday urged people across the country to oppose the military takeover in a statement prepared before she was arrested.

The charges against Suu Kyi came as the international condemnation of the military takeover in the country rose from 55 million. The G7 group of wealthy nations, which includes the US, UK and France, said Wednesday it was “deeply concerned” about the imprisonment of political leaders and civil society activists and media targeting.

The G7 also urged the military to respect the outcome of the November election, in which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party received 83 percent of the vote. The country’s electoral commission has denied allegations of inappropriateness.

Tensions have risen over the past two months as the military claimed the elections were fraudulent.

The Biden administration’s statement that the military takeover was a coup will spark a review of U.S. foreign aid to Myanmar, which is slated to receive approximately $ 100 million in U.S. aid this year.

However, much of this aid is humanitarian and direct economic aid and little of this is expected to be constrained by the new review.

On Tuesday, the United Nations envoy in Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, called on the United States Security Council to “jointly send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar”.

A protester holds a picture of Aung San Suu Kyi in front of the United Nations building in Bangkok on Wednesday.Jack Taylor / AFP – Getty Images

Suu Kyi served as a political prisoner for 15 years between 1989 and 2010. In 1991 she received the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia for promoting democracy and rights under the then ruling junta.

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However, her reputation was tarnished by the fact that she had not condemned the military for a brutal campaign against the Rohyinga Muslim minority, which many analysts believe amounts to genocide. In 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape a so-called ethnic cleansing campaign that included mass rape, murders, and house flaring.

Some Rohingya who are already reluctant to return to Myanmar are now even more unsafe.

“If we now return to the hands of the people responsible for our torture, we will probably have to endure twice as much pain as before,” Mohammad Jaffar, 70, told the Associated Press in an interview.

In addition to Suu Kyi and other officials, there are indications that political activists are also being attacked by the military. Activist and former political prisoner Mya Aye was arrested by the military on Monday, according to his daughter Wai Hnin Pwint Thon. His arrest was recorded on video surveillance in the neighborhood.

“We haven’t heard where he is or how he is or how long he’s going to be there,” she told NBC News.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this article

Bianca Britton and Zixu Wang contributed.

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