Suu Kyi payments claimed as Myanmar junta raises pressure
MANDALAY, Myanmar (AP) — A Myanmar construction magnate with links to military rulers said he personally gave more than half a million dollars in cash to deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a broadcast on state television aimed at discrediting the ousted civilian government.
The statement by Maung Waik could pave the way for more serious charges against Suu Kyi, who has been detained since the Feb. 1 military takeover while security forces increasingly use lethal force against a popular uprising demanding the restoration of democratically elected leaders.
The military has already tried to implicate Suu Kyi in corruption, alleging she was given $600,000 plus gold bars by a political ally. She and President Win Myint have been charged so far with inciting unrest, possession of walkie-talkies and violating a pandemic order limiting public gatherings.
In the latest salvo of allegations, Maung Waik, who has previously been convicted of drug trafficking, told state TV he gave cash to government ministers to help his businesses. He said the money included $100,000 given to Suu Kyi in 2018 for a charitable foundation named after her mother, $150,000 in 2019 for which he did not specify a reason, $50,000 last February and $250,000 in April, again with no purpose specified.
The country’s Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating the allegations and vowed to take action against Suu Kyi under the Anti-Corruption Law, the state-run newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar reported Thursday.
Meanwhile, a court has issued an arrest warrant for the country’s U.N. ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, on charges of treason, the newspaper reported.
The charge stems from his remarks Feb. 26 at U.N. headquarters, in which he condemned the coup and appealed for “the strongest possible action from the international community” to restore democracy in his country.
Also charged with treason was Mahn Win Khaing Than, the civilian leader of Myanmar’s government in hiding, the newspaper said. The acting vice president and member of Suu Kyi’s political party on Saturday had vowed to continue supporting a “revolution” to eject the military from power.
On Thursday, residents of a Yangon suburb set street barricades ablaze to block riot police.
Video showed large palls of smoke rising over the Tha Mine area in the city’s Hlaing township, with another barricade burning fiercely in the middle of a residential area. One resident, who did not want to be named for fear of retaliation, told The Associated Press that protesters set them alight after hearing that a column of police trucks was on its way.
Building barricades – and occasionally burning them – are now established tactics by opponents of the junta all over the country to impede police and army movement. The barriers also provide some protection from the now-frequent use of live ammunition against them.
On Wednesday, at least two people were shot dead in Kalay in northwestern Myanmar, according to media and social media posts that included photos of the victims. More than 200 people have been killed by security forces since the coup, according to credible tallies.
On Thursday, the head of the junta attended an online meeting of military leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.
It was a rare appearance by senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing before an international gathering since the coup.
ASEAN’s chairman earlier this month called for an end to violence in Myanmar and for talks to try to reach a peaceful settlement.