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Myanmar shadow government wants ASEAN crisis talks invite

JAKARTA: Indonesian cyclists take part in a rally to show their their support for democracy in Myanmar near the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta. – AFP

YANGON: Myanmar’s shadow government yesterday urged Southeast Asian leaders to give it a seat at the table during crisis talks next week, and not to recognize the military regime that seized power in a February coup. Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing is expected to join a special ASEAN summit on Myanmar on Saturday in Jakarta-his first official overseas trip since the putsch that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The army has moved to quell mass protests against its rule, killing at least 730 people according to a local monitoring group.

Min Aung Hlaing’s invitation to the meeting of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations has drawn scorn from activists who have urged foreign leaders not to formally recognize the junta. Moe Zaw Oo, deputy minister of foreign affairs for the parallel “national unity government”-formed Friday by ousted lawmakers mostly from Suu Kyi’s party, as well as ethnic-minority politicians-said ASEAN had not reached out to them.

“If ASEAN wants to help solve the Myanmar situation, they are not going to achieve anything without consulting and negotiating with the NUG, which is supported by the people and has full legitimacy,” he told Voice of America’s Burmese service. “It’s important that this military council is not recognized. This needs to be handled carefully.”

Unrest continued across the country on Sunday, with protesters rallying in Mandalay, Meiktila, Magway and Myingyan, showing support for the national unity government. At Palaw in the country’s south, demonstrators brandished banners that read: “Military dictators should not be allowed to rule. The dictatorship will be uprooted. Support the national unity government.” Young demonstrators also staged motorbike rallies while carrying flags in Hpakant and Sagaing.

The previous night, there were violent clashes in the central gem-producing city of Mogok when security forces cracked down on protesters. According to an AFP-verified video filmed by a resident, soldiers crouched on a street as their commanding officer shouted that he wanted “deaths”. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) verified two deaths at Mogok.

Much of Myanmar remains under a curfew imposed shortly after the coup, running from 8 pm to 4 am every night. Late Saturday, a young man was shot and killed in Kyaukme town in northern Shan state while riding his motorbike during the curfew. “He was shot by the authorities when he and other his friends drove motorbikes around 9 pm. He was shot in the head,” a rescue worker said, adding that his funeral would take place yesterday. – AFP


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