Southeast Asia

Dateline Southeast Asia – Updates on Myanmar military coup

Dateline Southeast Asia – Updates on Myanmar military coup


The first day of February jolted Southeast Asia after Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Myanmar, was arrested along with other key officials in a morning raid.

The military later declared a coup, putting Myanmar under a state of emergency, after an election they denounced as fraudulent.

Get updated on this – and more about neighboring countries – through Dateline Southeast Asia, Rappler’s dynamic wrap of the latest in the region.

Bookmark and refresh this page for updates and analyses of the latest news in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.


India frets as Myanmar’s pro-democracy fighters cross border


Thousands of people fleeing the junta’s crackdown in Myanmar have crossed into India’s far-flung eastern states, leading to worries among officials there that the region could become a staging post for pro-democracy activists and stoke instability.

Three Indian states – Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland – are currently sheltering around 16,000 people from Myanmar, civil society groups and government officials estimate, with the number expected to rise in coming months.

Read more here.

Military plane crashes near Myanmar’s Mandalay, killing 12 – fire service


A military plane crashed on Thursday, June 10, near Myanmar’s second-biggest city of Mandalay, killing 12 people, the city’s fire service said in a post on social media.

The plane was flying from the capital Naypyidaw to the town of Pyin Oo Lwin and was coming in to land when it crashed about 300 meters (984 ft) from a steel plant, the military-owned Myawaddy television station reported.

The plane was carrying six military personnel and also monks who were due to attend a ceremony at a Buddhist monastery, other media reports said.

There were no reports of casualties among people on the ground.

The pilot and one passenger survived and were taken to a military hospital, according to a resident and posting by a community group.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the crash. Myanmar has long had a poor air safety record.

Photographs on social media showed a badly damaged fuselage lying its side.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a military coup ousted the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, with daily protests in towns and cities and fighting in borderlands between the military and ethnic minority militias.

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First cases vs Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to end late July, says lawyer


Court proceedings in the first criminal cases involving deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi are set to finish late next month, her lawyer said on Monday, June 7, citing a decision by the presiding judge.

The prosecution has until June 28 to conclude its case while the defense has until July 26, and hearings would take place every Monday and Tuesday, June 8, Suu Kyi’s chief lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, told Reuters.

Suu Kyi, 75, who is being held at an undisclosed location, appeared at a hearing on Monday and was in good health, he said. She is among more than 4,000 people arrested since a coup on February 1.

The charges against her include illegally importing handheld radios, breaking COVID-19 protocols and illegally accepting gold and payments of about $600,000.

Suu Kyi, who denies all allegations, is charged in a separate case with violating the Official Secrets Act, which is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

On Monday, she asked the judge to intervene in that case, after court documents showed she would be representing herself, Khin Maung Zaw said.

“She told the persons who kept her in custody that she wouldn’t defend her cases without a lawyer,” he said.

The junta has struggled to impose order since it overthrew Suu Kyi’s elected government and took back power after a decade of democratic and economic reforms in the once isolated state that was ruled by the military for nearly 50 years following a 1962 coup.

The February 1 coup has triggered opposition by many members of society loath to see the return of rule by the generals.

Business and the bureaucracy have been paralyzed by strikes, protests and boycotts, while fighting in the countryside between troops and militias has displaced tens of thousands of people.

“I think she knows roughly about the situation happening in Myanmar,” said another member of the legal team, Thae Maung Maung.

Another lawyer, Min Min Soe, said Suu Kyi had asked about the coronavirus situation in Myanmar.

“She told us and the people to stay healthy,” she said.

Internet outages across Myanmar – witnesses


Military-ruled Myanmar experienced a widespread internet outage around the country on Friday, June 4, but services resumed after about one hour in the biggest city Yangon, witnesses said.

Broadband, mobile internet and wireless services were disrupted, several witnesses told Reuters by telephone. A military spokesman did not answer a call seeking comment and the country’s main telecoms operators could not immediately be reached.

Lawyer for Myanmar’s Suu Kyi worried over representation for secrets case


The top lawyer for Myanmar’s deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, voiced concern on Friday, June 4, that she had no legal representative listed in the case against her brought by the military junta for breaking the Official Secrets Act.

Khing Maung Zaw said the Supreme Court had announced cases to be heard on June 23 against Suu Kyi and four others, including her Australian economic adviser, Sean Turnell, but had listed all of them as representing themselves.

“We have concerns that they won’t have any legal representatives and there won’t be any transparency with hearing,” Khin Maung Zaw told Reuters.

“Normally, they should contact the defendants and need to give the opportunity to the defendants to contact their lawyers before they announce the case.”

Reuters was unable to reach the Supreme Court or a junta spokesman for comment.

The secrets charges are the most serious ones facing Suu Kyi, 75, and could mean a 14-year jail sentence. She appeared in court for the first time since the coup this month on lesser charges, which include breaking COVID-19 protocols.

No explanation has been given for taking the secrets case directly to the Supreme Court, whose verdict cannot be appealed.

The army overthrew Suu Kyi on February 1, cutting short a decade of democratic reforms that resulted from a long campaign for democracy that made her a national heroine and won her the Nobel peace prize.

The army accused Suu Kyi’s party of fraud in its massive victory in a November 2020 election, accusations dismissed by monitors and the then electoral commission.

Suu Kyi is among more than 4,500 people who have been detained since the coup, which has plunged Myanmar into chaos – with daily protests, paralyzing strikes and a resurgence of ethnic conflicts.

COVID-19 outbreak builds in Myanmar near Indian border


A new outbreak of COVID-19 is growing near Myanmar’s northwestern border with India, bringing the sharpest increase in cases since the military coup in February led to a collapse in health services and the testing program.

Official figures released late on Thursday, June 3, showed 122 cases across the country for the second time in three days – a low number compared with many Asian neighbors, but the highest in nearly four months.

Many of the cases are from Chin State, bordering India, raising concerns that the more transmissible variant first found there is now spreading in Myanmar.

Read more here.

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