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Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi in good health, lawyer says

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Myanmar’s fallen civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi appears to be in good health despite two months in detention, her legal team said on Wednesday, as diplomatic pressure on the military junta intensified.

Daily protests calling for the reestablishment of the elected government have met with a crackdown that left more than 520 civilian deaths in the weeks following the February 1 coup.

The junta’s violent reaction sparked international condemnation – and threats of retaliation from some of Myanmar’s myriad ethnic armed groups.

The US State Department has ordered the departure of non-essential diplomatic personnel and their families from Myanmar, and Japan – one of the country’s major donors – has halted new aid payments.

Suu Kyi, 75, has not been seen in public since being dropped off by the military and detained in the early hours of February 1.

But a member of her legal team, Min Min Soe, was summoned to a police station in the capital Naypyidaw for a video meeting with her on Wednesday.

Suu Kyi faces a slew of criminal charges and a conviction could see her banned from political office for life.

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“DASSK (Suu Kyi) ‘s physical condition looked good from her appearance on the video screen,” her legal team said in a statement.

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Suu Kyi noted that during the meeting, the police stayed by the attorney’s side and the guards watched her at her end, the statement said, adding that the Nobel Prize winner asked if this was legal.

The United States has said it has decided to withdraw its personnel from the country to protect their safety and security.

World powers have repeatedly condemned the violent crackdown on dissent and hit key junta figures with sanctions.

Japan has suspended all further aid to the country, according to the country’s foreign minister, but stopped before imposing sanctions.

“For Myanmar, Japan is the biggest provider of economic assistance,” Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told parliament on Tuesday.

“What is Japan’s position on economic assistance? There is no new help. We take this clear position. “

But so far the pressure has not swayed the generals. Saturday, the annual Armed Forces Day, saw the biggest loss of life to date, with at least 107 people killed.

The spiraling bloodshed has angered Myanmar’s 20 or so armed ethnic groups, who control large swathes of land, mostly in border areas.

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Three of them – the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the Myanmar Democratic Alliance of Nationalities Army and the Rakhine Army (AA) – on Tuesday threatened to join the protesters’ fight in unless the army curbs its violence.

While the trio have yet to act on their warning, two other formations – the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) – have stepped up their attacks on the military and the police in recent days.

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A Bago police station was reportedly hit by a rocket attack that injured five police officers on Tuesday, although it is not known who was responsible.

The KNU, one of the largest rebel groups, took over a military base in eastern Kayin state this weekend, prompting the army to respond with airstrikes.

New strikes were launched on Tuesday, but Padoh Saw Taw Nee, the KNU’s foreign chief, said the group would continue to “strongly support the popular movement against (the) military coup”.

The KNU Fifth Brigade on Tuesday condemned the airstrikes and warned that it had no choice but to “face these serious threats” posed by the military.

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About 3,000 people fled the jungle to safety across the Thai border after the weekend strikes.

Thai authorities say about 2,400 returned voluntarily to Myanmar, and 200 others have also agreed to return.

Karen activists accused Thai authorities of pushing people back and said they were blocking UN refugees in the area.

Some Karen people injured in the weekend strikes sought medical treatment on the Thai side of the border on Tuesday – the most serious case was a 15-year-old with a collapsed lung and broken rib.

Thai police say they intercepted 10 packages containing 112 grenades and 6,000 rounds in northern Chiang Rai province that were destined for Myanmar’s notorious border town Tachileik.

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency session on Myanmar on Wednesday, at the request of the former British colonial power.

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