The Prime Minister has branded the latest charges against the ousted leader of Myanmar as “fabricated”, as the UK Government repeated calls for Aung San Suu Kyi to be released.
Ms Suu Kyi, whose party won the country’s election last year, was deposed in a military coup earlier this month and placed under arrest.
Her lawyer has said that fresh police charges brought against Ms Suu Kyi this week could see her held indefinitely without trial.
Boris Johnson said the charges amounted to a human rights violation.
He tweeted: “New charges against Aung San Suu Kyi fabricated by the Myanmar military are a clear violation of her human rights.
“We stand with the people of Myanmar and will ensure those responsible for this coup are held to account.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also criticised the move and repeated the UK’s call for the country’s political leaders to be freed.
The Cabinet minister said: “The charges against Aung San Suu Kyi are politically motivated, and the latest example of the Myanmar military undermining democratically elected politicians.
“Aung San Suu Kyi and all other elected politicians arbitrarily held must be released immediately.
“The UK and likeminded nations will not ignore these violations. We will ensure those responsible are held to account.”
Ms Suu Kyi’s lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told reporters, after meeting with a judge in the capital Naypyitaw, that the elected leader had been charged with violating Article 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law, which has been used to prosecute people who have broken coronavirus restrictions.
Ms Suu Kyi, who was ousted in a military coup on February 1, has already been charged with possessing walkie-talkies that were imported without being registered.
The maximum punishment for the Covid-19 violation is three years’ imprisonment.
However, the new charge may allow her to be held indefinitely without trial because a change in the Penal Code instituted by the junta last week permits detention without court permission.
Ms Suu Kyi held the top government post, with the title of state counsellor, at the time of the military takeover.
Demonstrators have taken to the streets in defiance of an order banning gatherings of five or more people, with protestors holding placards with pictures of Ms Suu Kyi and demanding the return of democracy.
Buddhist monks demonstrated outside the UN’s local office and on Monday in Mandalay, soldiers and police violently broke up a gathering of more than 1,000 protesters in front of the Myanmar Economic Bank.
They attacked the protesters with catapults and sticks, and police could be seen aiming guns into the air amid sounds that resembled gunfire.
Local media reported rubber bullets were fired into the crowd and that a few people were injured.
The government ordered internet access blocked on Sunday and Monday nights without giving a reason.
The military contends there was fraud in last year’s election, which Ms Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide, and says it will hold power for a year before holding new elections.
The state election commission found no evidence to support the claims of fraud.
The military says its takeover is legitimate under a 2008 constitution that was drafted under military rule and ensures the army maintains ultimate control over the country.