News World New Suu Kyi bribery claims emerge as Myanmar protesters, security forces clash

New Suu Kyi bribery claims emerge as Myanmar protesters, security forces clash

Protesters carry a wounded man shot with live rounds by security forces. Photo: Getty
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State-controlled television in Myanmar has reported a prominent businessman as saying he had given ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi about $US550,000 ($A712,345) in illegal payments in 2019 and 2020.

The revelation comes after protesters fired slingshots and threw Molotov cocktails toward lines of security forces after the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners revealed that 202 people had so far been killed.

The military junta which seized power in a coup on February 1 announced last week that it was investigating Ms Suu Kyi, who is currently being held in detention, on suspicion of bribery.

The comments made by property developer Maung Weik on MRTV add to the case the junta has begun to make against Ms Suu Kyi, who could face a long prison sentence if convicted.

Her lawyer dismissed the initial accusation last week as a joke.

He was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

Maung Weik said he had given Ms Suu Kyi four payments, ranging from $US50,000 to $US250,000 in 2019 and 2020.

At that time she was Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader in the role of State Counsellor.

Protesters test out a large slingshot weapon in Yangon. Photo: Getty

“According to the testimony of U Maung Weik… Aung San Suu Kyi is guilty of bribery and the anti-corruption commission is investigating to take action under anti-corruption laws,” MRTV said.

She has also been charged separately with illegally importing communications equipment and violating anti-coronavirus rules.

As well as prison sentences, she could be barred from politics if convicted.

Several foreign governments have denounced the charges as fabricated.

Meanwhile, at least two people were shot dead during protests on Wednesday in northwestern Myanmar, according to press and social media posts that included photos of the victims.

Protests against the coup have shown remarkable staying power and largely remained peaceful despite curbs on internet access, the imposition of martial law in some places and an often violent response by police.

A protester (5th L) throws a projectile towards security forces as others shelter behind a barricade. Photo: Getty

Demonstrators have come up with innovative ways to carry on in the face of the violence, including lining up placards as stand-ins for themselves or coconuts painted with the words “Spring Revolution”.

But on Wednesday, after security forces apparently shot at them in the country’s largest city of Yangon, demonstrators initially fled – but then crept back to hunker down behind sandbag barricades.

Some hurled firebombs while others took aim with slingshots – though the forces were too far away to be hit.

Pope Francis appealed for an end to the bloodshed on Wednesday.

In an apparent reference to widely broadcast images of a nun in Myanmar, kneeling in the street in front of armed security forces, Francis said: “I, too, kneel on the streets of Myanmar and say: may violence cease”.

State television MRTV announced on Tuesday evening that another leading figure, who goes by the name Dr Sasa, has been charged with high treason, which carries a death sentence.

Men ride a scooter with sidecar past a burning barricade across a road in Yangon. Photo: Getty

He remains at large, and though in hiding, has frequently been in contact with journalists, diplomats and others.

Dr Sasa was appointed a special UN envoy by a committee formed by the elected members of parliament who were barred from taking their seats by the coup.

The committee, a sort of shadow government that claims to be the sole legitimate representative body of Myanmar’s citizens, was also declared treasonous by the junta.

Dr Sasa said he was proud to be charged with treason “because treason against the junta means that I am standing with the people of Myanmar, giving my life for their freedom, for federal democracy and for justice”.

In addition to the protests in Yangon, regional media outlets and social media posts reported new peaceful protest marches on Wednesday in Taungoo, Thayet, Myingyan, and Madaya, all in central Myanmar; Tamu, in the northwest near the border with India, and Pyay, on the Irrawaddy River northwest of Yangon.