After Asean meeting junta seeks 'stability' with violence
by Francis Khoo Thwe

Jakarta meeting recommendations ineffective. Clashes between the army and Karen on the border with Thailand. Yesterday a rice seller killed in Mandalay. So far the junta has killed 745 people and made 3,371 arrests. Barack Obama is "shocked by the heartbreaking violence" against civilians. Aung San Suu Kyi - under arrest for almost 3 months - asks to see her lawyer personally.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - The military junta in command of Myanmar since the February coup, has declared that it will follow the requests of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to stop the violence, only after the country "returns to stability ".

Observers and activists note the position taken by the "State Administrative Council of Myanmar" - as the junta in power calls itself - indicates the refusal of the military to dialogue with the population, as well as the ineptitude of Asean.

On April 24th, a meeting with the political leaders of the countries of Southeast Asia was held in Jakarta which, for the first time in an international meeting, was attended by Gen. Min Aug Hlaing (photo 1), head of the junta in power.

At the end of the meeting, five points of consensus were drawn up: an immediate end to the violence "on all sides"; constructive dialogue seeking a "peaceful solution in the interest of the people"; the sending of a special Asean envoy to mediate in the dialogue process; humanitarian assistance; a visit by the envoy and an Asean delegation to meet the various parties. But without setting any date or deadline, the five points amount to an exhortation that the junta can ignore, which is exactly what it is doing.

Today the army and Karen armed groups are battling on the border with Thailand; last night in Mandalay, the military killed a man, a rice seller, shooting wildly after seven in the evening, to scare people (photo 2).

According to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, since February 1, the date of the start of the coup, the junta has killed 745 civilians and arrested 3,371 people.

Meanwhile, demonstrations continue in Yangon and other parts of the country, demanding the end of the military dictatorship and the resumption of the democratic path.

Former US President Barack Obama has thrown his support behind the protesters. He had previously worked with the military on a transition to democracy. In a statement yesterday he said he was "shocked by the heartbreaking violence" that the security forces use against civilians.

"The military’s illegitimate and brutal effort to impose its will after a decade of greater freedoms will clearly never be accepted by the people and should not be accepted by the wider world,” Obama said in the statement.

In a warning to ASEAN he added: “Myanmar’s neighbours should recognise that a murderous regime rejected by the people will only bring greater instability, humanitarian crisis, and the risk of a failed state.”

Meanwhile, yesterday, Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratic leader under house arrest since the beginning of the coup d'état, appeared on video (photo 3). In recent months, the junta has tried to build a case against her for corruption, illegal purchases, violation of anti-Covid rules, among other charges.

In anticipation of a trial that is continually being postponed, the "Lady", as she is called by her supporters, has asked to be able to see her attorneys in person. Until now she has only been able to meet them on video and in the presence of a security officer.