Supporters of Myanmar’s detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi wore flowers in their hair and paraded with them at street demonstrations on Saturday as she marked her 76th birthday locked up by the generals who overthrew her.
Protests have been held almost daily in Myanmar since Suu Kyi was ousted in a February 1 coup that cut short a decade of democratic reforms and also sparked paralyzing strikes and renewed conflict in the Southeast Asian country.
The United Nations General Assembly on Friday called for a stop to the flow of arms to Myanmar and urged the military to respect November election results and release political detainees, including Suu Kyi.
For decades a symbol of the fight for democracy under previous juntas, she often wore flowers in her hair.
Among those wearing flowers on Saturday was activist Thet Swe Win, who had been at odds with Suu Kyi over human rights violations during her own time in office.
“I demand freedom for all the people including Aung San Suu Kyi,” he said. “Her individual rights and political rights are being violated.”
A junta spokesman did not answer calls to seek comment.
Suu Kyi is among nearly 5,000 people currently detained by the junta for opposing the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group. It also says 870 people have been killed – a figure challenged by the junta.
The army overthrew Suu Kyi after her administration dismissed its allegations of fraud over her party’s landslide election victory last November. International monitors had said the vote was fair.
She now faces charges from illegally possessing walkie-talkie radios and breaking coronavirus protocols to inciting discontent, corruption and breaking the Official Secrets Act – which can carry a 14-year jail term.
Suu Kyi’s lawyers say the charges are absurd and her supporters say they are aimed at eliminating her from politics.