11 July 2024

Yangon (AFP) – The chief lawyer for ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Friday he had been banned by the junta from speaking to journalists, diplomats or international organisations.

The gag order came after he relayed vivid testimony from the country’s deposed president Win Myint — describing how he rejected a military offer to resign to save himself during the February 1 coup.

Suu Kyi is on trial on a raft of charges ranging from sedition to breaching coronavirus restrictions, and faces a long jail term if convicted.

But media have been barred from attending court, and the Nobel laureate’s legal team have been a key source of information on the hearings.

“Well well, they shut my mouth with 144,” lawyer Khin Maung Zaw posted on his Facebook page.

The number refers to section 144 of the Myanmar criminal procedure code, which was used to issue the gag.

The lawyer also posted photos of the order, signed by a senior official in Pyinmana township, part of the capital Naypyidaw, which noted he had been talking to media.

“This communication disturbs or harms some people who are acting in line with the law, and it may cause public unrest,” the order said.

“Starting from October 14, lawyer U Khin Maung Zaw is prohibited from communicating, meeting, and speaking to foreign and local media, foreign diplomats, international organisations… representatives from foreign government, or any other organisations outside directly or indirectly.”

The February coup snuffed out Myanmar’s brief dalliance with democracy after decades of outright army rule and triggered widespread protests followed by a bloody crackdown that has left nearly 1,200 civilians dead.

The 76-year-old Suu Kyi, a thorn in the generals’ side for many years, is scheduled to testify in court for the first time later this month.

Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing has justified his power grab by citing alleged electoral fraud in last year’s election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won convincingly.