Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s ousted State Counsellor, attended court on Monday for the first time since the military junta overthrew the democratically elected government in early February. Monday’s hearing was also her first public appearance since the coup d’état.
Suu Kyi’s court attendance was a big step as all of her previous attendances have been virtual. She has been charged with a variety of criminal offenses, the most serious of which is leaking state secrets.
Suu Kyi’s defense lawyer Min Min Soe told AFP that she appeared in good health despite fears for her wellbeing abounding during her house arrest after being ousted from office and having no known public appearances until Monday.
Local news reported that she remained steadfast in her championing for democracy. She reportedly said the political party comprising the majority of the country’s parliament of which she headed up before the military overthrew the government, the National League for Democracy, will “exist as long as the people exist” because it was “formed for the people.”
Min Soe also told local news that Suu Kyi met with her legal team. That is important because while waiting for her trial, Suu Kyi has had restricted access to legal advice. In most countries, persons charged with a criminal offense would have the right to a “fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law” as provided for by Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The right includes the right to legal assistance. However, as Myanmar is not a signatory to the treaty, Suu Kyi does not enjoy those protections.
In addition, Min Soe reported that Suu Kyi had met with the country’s ousted former President U Win Myint. Together, with other leaders from the ousted government, they have formed a parallel National Unity Government which they are working to have recognized as legitimate.