The lawyer for Aung San Suu Kyi says that her trial will help decide that the people of Myanmar are again “slaves” of the military, sleeping in separate lodges each night for evasion of arrest.
Soldiers raided and detained the civilian leader three weeks ago in pre-dawn raids, effectively ending Burma’s 10-year democracy experiment.
The new military regime has committed itself to holding elections within a year, but the junta is now in charge of all democratic institutions in the country, including the courts.
Khin Maung Zaw was charged with defending Aung San Suu Kyi for unlicensed walkie talks and for breach of the prohibitions on coronaviruses.
The 73-year-old told AFP by phone of Naypyidaw, the country’s capital, that ‘Myanmar is now a critical point in the history,’ while reflecting the weeks of national demonstrations that demand the release of his customer.
“If we lose, we will become slaves of the military junta for 40 or 50 years. We have to win this battle.”
The Junta has already acted to purge future Aung San Suu Kyi supporters from the top courts of the country, and the brief of Khin Maung Zaw is thoroughly stacked against him.
Nothing allowed him to see Aung San Suu Kyi in front of her Mar 1. Despite many requests.
“If I don’t get permission to meet with her for the hearing, I will let all the world know that the trial is not fair,” he said.
He has also stepped up his own safety precautions, due to “indirect pressures” passed onto him from relatives.
“At night, I have to stay away from my house and I have to stay in other people’s houses,” he told AFP.
“NO REASON TO BE AFRAID”
Born in 1948 in Pyinmana, a town now on the outskirts of the capital built by an earlier junta, Khin Maung Zaw says he is used to threats from a powerful military.
After protesting from a previous dictatorship in Mandalay he was first jailed when he was 17 for circulating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at his college campus.
He has been sent to the infamous jail of the Coco Islands, 400 km from Myanmar.
He says it’s “equivalent of a gulag” It was eventually demolished following a hunger strike by prisoners to protest the harsh conditions of the island.
He was again arrested in 1972 for joining the student protests three years later. He’s been behind bars for a total of nine years.
“I have no reason to be afraid for myself because I have weathered all these executions and repression,” he said.
Since the coup, authorities have continually reinforced their use of force in order to suppress the country’s massive campaign of civil disobedience.
Khin Maung Zaw’s drive is shocked but afraid of their defense, and at least 3 anti-coup demonstrators have been killed.
“The spark has become a pyre fire,” he said. “In the past, when the military becomes desperate, they will do anything.”
The Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were defending his last high-profile case.
Both men were held in jail for reporting atrocities on the stateless Rohingya minority in the country for almost 18 months.
The case contradicted Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, which shielded the Rohingya group from the army attacks and once called the reporters traitors, according to an American diplomat.
However, Khin Maung Zaw does not consider the ‘personal dimensions’ of the situation, which were unimportant in comparison with the attempts of the nation to prevent a return to military rule.
“I’m not representing Aung San Suu Kyi as a person – I am representing a publicly elected person under attack by the military forces,” he said.
“That is all in defence of democracy.”