Myanmar”s military on Thursday charged Aung San Suu Kyi with corruption, alleging she illegally accepted gold bars and $600,000 (€501,500).
It comes as the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar said that the military is “likely engaging in crimes against humanity.”
A military spokesman told reporters during a news conference in the capital Naypyitaw, that the former Yangon Division chief minister Phyo Min Thein, currently in jail, had admitted handing the money and gold to Suu Kyi in 2017 and 2018.
Phyo Min Thein and the military offered no evidence to support the allegation.
The military overthrew the government on February 1 alleging widespread fraud in the November legislative election which Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide.
Suu Kyi, hundreds of lawmakers, activists and civil servants were arrested and she hasn’t been seen since.
The latest charge against her adds to the four the military has already announced. She was initially charged with illegally importing walkie-talkies and failing to comply with coronavirus restriction. Earlier this month, authorities said she was also being prosecuted for violating a telecommunications law and for “inciting public disorder”.
The implication of corruption was clearly aimed at discrediting Suu Kyi, and perhaps charging her with a serious crime.
The United Nations and Western countries have strongly condemned the military’s violent repression of protesters.
Thomas Andrews, the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Myanmar told the Human Rights Council on Thursday afternoon that the country “is being controlled by a murderous, illegal regime”, which is “now likely engaging in crimes against humanity.”
“I am urging member states to commit to taking strong, decisive, and coordinated action as a coalition of nations,” he added.
A week ago, Michelle Bachelet, the UN’ Human Rights chief, called on the authorities to “stop murdering and jailing protesters” and to “halt their vicious crackdown on peaceful protesters”.
The organisation estimated then that at least 54 people have been killed since the coup and that a further 1,700 have been arbitrarily arrested and detained.
Amnesty International warned on Thursday that video footage it had analysed showed that the military “is using increasingly lethal tactics and weapons” against peaceful protesters.
It said that “many fo the killings documented amount to extrajudicial executions.”