Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's Ousted Leader, Frustrated at Court Denying Appeals to Meet Legal Team

Myanmar's former elected leader, who is among 3,400 estimated political prisoners arrested in an ongoing military coup, said at a Monday court hearing that she is frustrated by delays in the court's response to requests to meet with her lawyers.

Aung San Suu Kyi is charged with two counts of violating a law intended to control the spread of the coronavirus, illegally importing walkie-talkies and unlicensed use of them, inciting public unrest and breaking the official secrets act. She is being held in Myanmar's capital, Naypyitaw, the Associated Press reported.

Supporters of Suu Kyi said the charges are politically motivated and that the court is intentionally delaying her case to keep her in jail. In protests on Monday and online, many said they were unsatisfied with the outcome of Saturday's Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Jakarta and its lack of demand for the release of political prisoners.

Suu Kyi told the court via video conference that she had already asked to meet her lawyers, a member of her legal team, Min Min Soe, told reporters. Additional charges have since been added to Suu Kyi's case. Her next court appointment is scheduled for May 10.

U.S. diplomat Scot Marciel said Monday on Twitter that ASEAN plays a crucial role in ending the turmoil in Myanmar, urging the economic union and others to act.

"It's possible to be both skeptical of ASEAN's initiative on Myanmar and hopeful it can create an opening that could lead to progress," Marciel said. "Critical now that ASEAN engage with the NUG and press the junta to end violence, free detainees. And it's not all on ASEAN - others must help."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Myanmar Protest
Protesters hold up the three-finger salute as they take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Tarmwe Township in Yangon, Myanmar, on April 26, 2021. Former elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is being held on several charges her supporters say are politically motivated, said Monday that requests to meet her lawyers were not fulfilled by the court. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Protesters in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, braved potential violence by security forces on Monday to demonstrate against February's military coup, showing their resolve to continue their resistance two days after Southeast Asian leaders met to address the country's crisis.

The group of mainly young people flooded into the streets of a Yangon neighborhood carrying banners and brandishing the three-fingered salute which the movement has adopted as its symbol.

Demonstrations have continued in many parts of the country since Saturday's meeting of ASEAN leaders, as have arrests and beatings by security forces despite an apparent agreement by junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to end the violence.

More than 700 protesters and bystanders have been killed by the security forces since the February 1 coup, according to several detailed estimates. The junta's own figure is roughly one-third of that. It also said it does not use disproportionate force to put down what it describes as rioting.

After chanting their opposition to the junta and listening to speeches, the protesters quickly scattered to avoid any confrontation with police or soldiers.

ASEAN issued a statement expressing a "five-point consensus" on Myanmar's crisis. It called for the immediate cessation of violence, a dialogue among all concerned parties, mediation of the dialogue process by an ASEAN special envoy, provision of humanitarian aid through ASEAN channels, and a visit to Myanmar by the special ASEAN envoy to meet all concerned parties.

Foes of the junta were also unhappy that there was no representative at the meeting from the shadow National Unity Government (NUG), which they call the country's only legitimate government.

The NUG was recently established by elected lawmakers who were barred from taking their seats by the military when it seized power.

The shadow government's initial reaction to the ASEAN meeting was guardedly hopeful.

"We look forward to firm action by ASEAN to follow up its decisions and to restore our democracy and freedom for our people and for the region," NUG spokesman Dr. Sasa said in a statement posted on social media.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, called the five-point consensus "an encouraging step forward in ASEAN's ongoing efforts to resolve the current crisis in Myanmar."

China said it welcomed the meeting, which it called "a good start for all parties to promote an open and inclusive 'ASEAN approach' to de-escalate the situation in Myanmar."

"Of course, one meeting cannot completely solve all the problems," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in Beijing on Monday.

China is widely seen as providing essential political and economic support to the junta.

Some involved observers have adopted more of a wait-and-see attitude.

Tom Andrews, the U.N.'s independent expert on human rights for Myanmar, said the ASEAN summit should be judged by the results in Myanmar.

"Will the killing stop? Will the terrorizing of neighborhoods end? Will the thousands abducted be released? Will impunity persist? Anxious to work w ASEAN's Spec Envoy & monitor Summit's actual results," he wrote Sunday on Twitter.

Win Myint, who was president in Suu Kyi's government, is in the same predicament and faces some of the same charges.

Suu Kyi and Win Myint appeared healthy, though Suu Kyi seemed slightly thinner than before, Min Min Soe said.