In a broadcast on state television aimed at discrediting the ousted civilian government, 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.
The statement by Maung Waik could pave the way for more serious charges to be brought against Suu Kyi, who has been detained since the military took over on Feb. 1, while security forces have steadily used lethal force against a popular rebellion demanding the restoration of democratically elected leaders.
Suu Kyi has also been accused of corruption by the military, which claims she was given $600,000 and gold bars by a political ally. So far, she and President Win Myint have been charged with inciting violence, possessing walkie-talkies, and violating a pandemic order that prohibits public gatherings.
Maung Waik, who has previously been convicted of drug trafficking, said on state television that he gave cash to government ministers to support his businesses. He said the funds included $100,000 given to Suu Kyi in 2018 for a charitable organization named after her mother, $150,000 in 2019 for an unknown cause, $50,000 in February, and $250,000 in April, all for an unknown reason.
Meanwhile, a Myanmar court has released an arrest warrant for the country’s United Nations ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, on treason charges, according to Myanmar’s state-run newspaper Global New Light.
The accusation stems from his remarks at the United Nations in New York on Feb. 26, in which he denounced the coup and urged the international community to take “the strongest possible steps” to restore democracy in his country.
The civilian leader of Myanmar’s government in exile, Mahn Win Khaing Than, was also charged with treason, according to the report. On Saturday, the acting vice president and a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party spoke for the first time since the coup, vowing to continue supporting a “revolution” to remove the military from power.
Residents in a Yangon suburb set fire to street barricades on Thursday to prevent riot police from entering.
Big plumes of smoke could be seen rising over the Tha Mine area in the city’s Hlaing township, and another barricade was burning ferociously in the middle of a residential area, according to video. Residents set them on fire after hearing that a column of police vehicles was on its way, according to one resident who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation.
Building barricades – and sometimes torching them – has been a common technique used by junta opponents around the country to block police and army movement. The barriers also provide protection against the increasingly common use of live ammunition against them.
According to media and social media posts that included images of the victims, at least two people were shot dead in Kalay, Myanmar’s northwestern region, on Wednesday. Since the coup, more than 200 people have been confirmed killed.
Pope Francis has called for a halt to the violence.
“I, too, kneel on the streets of Myanmar and say: may violence cease,” Francis said, referring to widely circulated photographs of a nun kneeling on the street in front of armed security forces asking them not to shoot demonstrators.