04/19/2021, 11.29
MYANMAR
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Two military bases taken by Kachin. The interim government asks ASEAN for recognition

by Francis Khoo Thwe

Ethnic armed groups are increasingly involved in operations against the junta. Yesterday demonstrations in dozens of cities. The resistance of the Myingan population. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, junta head, will go to Jakarta for an ASEAN rally. A Japanese journalist arrested.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - Two army military bases were captured this morning by the Kachin Independence Army (Kia), one of the best trained armed ethnic groups in the north of the country. The two bases that fell into the hands of Kia are located in the Hpakant area.

For several weeks, clashes have been taking place in the region between junta soldiers and KIA troops, who have decided to fight to defend the civilians demonstrating against the coup d'état, at the mercy of army violence and snipers. Along with the Kia, other armed ethnic groups are increasingly involved in the fight against the junta.

The resistance of the civilian population also continues. Yesterday there were new demonstrations in different parts of the country: in Palaw, Hpakant, Sagaing, Mogok, Mandalay, Meiktila, Magway, Myingyan.

Yesterday afternoon in the Myingan area, about 200 members of the security forces broke down the barricades and made at least six arrests. According to local sources, no civilians died in the clashes, but there are casualties among the military because people used artisanal weapons and shotguns.

Junta opponents rebuilt the barricades overnight, but today around 10 am the soldiers destroyed them again. To sow terror, they fired in all directions. A rice seller, who was closing his shop, was badly hit.

The new government of national unity

Meanwhile, the interim government, which brings together parliamentarians and members of ethnic groups (see photo), declared on April 16, has asked ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) not to recognize the military junta and instead invite their representative to the next meeting of the association.

A special ASEAN meeting will be held in Jakarta on April 24, where the Burmese crisis will be addressed. According to Thai Foreign Ministry rumours Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the junta that took power after the coup, will attend.

ASEAN members have never condemned the coup, but have strongly criticized the violence against the civilian population. Some of them said they were in favour of a resumption of dialogue between the army and parliamentarians, pending new elections, in the wake of what the junta promised.

The interim government, which calls itself a "government of national unity", claims to be the legitimate political authority of Myanmar and has asked the international community and ASEAN to be recognized as such.

In recent days, to celebrate the New Year, the junta freed 23,184 prisoners, but according to many locals, almost no political prisoners. The Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners says that as of yesterday 737 people have been killed by the junta; 3229 people have been injured.

The Japanese journalist Yuki Kitazumi was arrested yesterday in Yangon, and transferred overnight to Insein prison, where political prisoners are usually jailed. Kitazumi has often filmed demonstrations and events related to the pro-democracy movement and was briefly arrested last February. The Japanese government has asked for his release.

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