Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s senior lawyer said he had been given a gag order forbidding her to talk about her business.
“My mouth is under 144”, that’s how he explained his situation. The law is normally used to restrict public gatherings and impose curfews, and was used this way by the military after they overthrew the elected government of Suu Kyi in February.
Kyi Win, another lawyer for Suu Kyi’s legal team, told The Associated Press that the municipal office in the capital Naypyitaw, where Suu Kyi is on trial, summoned Khin Maung Zaw to sign a pledge not to not reveal information to the media.
News of the gag order circulated late Thursday evening, when government officials could not be reached for comment.
The practical effect of the order will be to stifle almost all first-hand accounts of the ongoing trials in which Suu Kyi and her co-defendants are involved.
The only accounts of the proceedings come from the lawyers defending her and her co-defendants. Court hearings are closed to journalists and the public, prosecutors do not comment on them, and state-controlled media have so far not spoken directly about them.
“The military council is now blocking one lawyer after another,” Kyi Win said, referring to the ruling junta. “We don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
In August, San Mar La Nyunt, another lawyer for Suu Kyi, was also forced to accept a gag order prohibiting her from speaking to the media.
Suu Kyi’s supporters and independent analysts say the charges against her are concocted to discredit her and legitimize the military takeover. The most serious charges are corruption, for which each count carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, and violation of the Official Secrets Act, which is punishable by ‘a maximum penalty of 14 years.
Suu Kyi’s co-defendants in the secrets case are three of her former ministers and Sean Turnell, an Australian economist who served as her adviser.
Turnell’s attorney Ye Lin Aung said the Naypyitaw court dealing with the case agreed in principle Thursday to allow an interpreter at the next trial, overturning its own ruling a week earlier, as ‘he had turned down one for what he said were security reasons. .
The exact details of Turnell’s alleged offense and those of the others have not been made public, although Myanmar State Television, citing government statements, said the Australian academic had access to material. “Secret state financial information” and had tried to flee the country.