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Myanmar Crisis

Myanmar military imposes gag order on Suu Kyi's lawyers

Authorities fear 'loss of social order' as deposed leader's court testimony begins

Aung San Suu Kyi, ousted as Myanmar's de facto leader, is on trial involving charges lodged against her by the military government.   © Reuters

BANGKOK/YANGON -- Myanmar's military government has barred the attorneys of Aung San Suu Kyi from speaking with the media as the ousted leader made her latest court appearance Tuesday.

The appearance is believed to mark Suu Kyi's first court testimony as a criminal defendant. Myanmar's deposed state counselor denied the charge of incitement to cause alarm, local news outlets reported.

The court proceedings in the capital, Naypyitaw, have been conducted behind closed doors. Suu Kyi's lawyers previously acted as a source of information concerning the state of the trial and her condition.

But Myanmar officials have banned the lawyers from contact with members of the media, foreign diplomats or international organizations. The authorities cited a potential "loss of social order" such statements may instigate.

Suu Kyi still commands strong loyalty among the Southeast Asian country's citizens, and officials appear concerned that her words might inspire resistance against the military.

Authorities have refused to let Erywan Yusof, the special envoy to Myanmar appointed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, meet with Suu Kyi in person. The military government maintains that it cannot allow meetings with people on trial.

The envoy, who doubles as Brunei's second foreign minister, gave up on plans to visit Myanmar in mid-October. ASEAN in response has disinvited Myanmar's military chief, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, from the group's summit currently taking place.

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