Coup in Myanmar: Neighbours press for Suu Kyi’s release | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 03, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:52 AM, March 03, 2021

Coup in Myanmar: Neighbours press for Suu Kyi’s release

Several people hurt as police open fire to disperse protesters; journos arrested

Myanmar's neighbours yesterday pressed its ruling military to release ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and cease what Singapore called the disastrous use of lethal force against opponents of their February 1 coup and work out a solution to the crisis.

The calls from fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) came as Myanmar police again opened fire to disperse crowds after weeks of demonstrations against military rule. Several people were wounded, witnesses said.

For all latest news, follow The Daily Star's Google News channel.

Asean foreign ministers held talks with a representative of the junta in a video call two days after the bloodiest day of unrest since the military overthrew Suu Kyi's elected government.

At least 21 people have been killed since the coup, which Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an interview with the BBC was a "tragic" step back for Myanmar.

The foreign minister of Indonesia, which has been pushing a regional diplomatic effort, urged Myanmar to "open its doors" to the Asean bloc to resolve the escalating tension.

Speaking to reporters in Jakarta, the minister, Retno Marsudi, called for the release of political detainees and for the restoration of democracy, while pledging that Asean countries would not break their pledge of not interfering in each other's affairs. 

"Restoring democracy back on track must be pursued," Retno said.

"Indonesia underlines that the will, the interest and the voices of the people of Myanmar must be respected."

Asean groups Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.

It called on all parties to refrain from instigating further violence in Myanmar and to seek a peaceful solution following weeks of protests after the military seized power.

A statement issued after the informal meeting of Asean foreign ministers yesterday also said that the 10-member bloc stood ready "to assist Myanmar in a positive, peaceful and constructive manner".

The bloc's effort to engage with Myanmar's military has been criticised by supporters of democracy, with a committee of ousted Myanmar lawmakers declaring the junta a terrorist group and saying Asean's engagement would give it legitimacy.

Sa Sa, the committee's anointed envoy to the United Nations, said Asean should have no dealings with "this illegitimate military-led regime".

The coup halted Myanmar's tentative steps towards democracy after nearly 50 years of military rule and has drawn condemnation and sanctions from the United States and other Western countries.

Singapore's Lee said sanctions would not affect the junta but hurt the people and the way forward was to free Suu Kyi and work out a solution.

"To have to go back and have the military take over again ... it is an enormous tragic step back for them. Because there is no future that way," Lee said in the interview, according to a transcript.

"To use lethal force against civilians and unarmed demonstrators, I think it is just not acceptable. That is disastrous not just internationally, but disastrous domestically."

Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein called for the immediate release of Suu Kyi and other detainees, adding that if the situation worsened, it would be a setback for regional peace, stability and prosperity.

'WAR ZONE'

Hundreds of protesters, many wearing hard hats and clutching makeshift shields, gathered earlier behind barricades in different parts of Myanmar's main city of Yangon to chant slogans before police moved in firing stun grenades.

There were no reports of injuries in Yangon but four people were wounded in the northwestern town of Kale, where police fired live ammunition to disperse a crowd after protesters threw objects at advancing police, witnesses said.

"They were acting like they were in a war zone," a teacher at the protest said of the police.

The teacher, who declined to be identified, and other witnesses said that as well as the four wounded by live ammunition, several people were hurt by rubber bullets, reports Reuters.

A Myanmar reporter was arrested in his home by the military in a late-night raid, his employer said yesterday.

A Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reporter live-streamed his detention on Monday night, showing chaotic footage of loud bangs happening outside his apartment building in the southern city of Myeik.

Hours later, DVB said on Twitter that the reporter, Kaung Myat Hlaing, had been taken from his home by security forces, reports AFP.

Journalists have found themselves targeted by police and soldiers as they try to capture the unrest on the streets. In recent days, several have been arrested, including an Associated Press photographer in Yangon.

The military justified the coup saying its complaints of fraud in a November election won by Suu Kyi's party were ignored. The election commission said the vote was fair.

Suu Kyi, 75, appeared at a court hearing via video conferencing on Monday and looked in good health, one of her lawyers said. Two more charges were added to those filed against her after the coup, the lawyer said.

The Nobel Peace laureate has not been seen in public since the coup.

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star Android & iOS News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Grameenphone:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 22222

Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222


Banglalink:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News

Top