Myanmar shadow gov’t demands invite for ASEAN summit talks

Parallel ‘national unity government’ says it wants to take part in crisis talks scheduled for next week in Indonesia.

Myanmar has been in upheaval since the military removed an elected government led by civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1 [Reuters]

Myanmar’s shadow government has urged Southeast Asian leaders to give it a seat at the table during crisis talks next week, and not to recognise the military rulers that seized power in a February coup.

Military government leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is expected to join a special ASEAN summit on Myanmar on Saturday in Jakarta, Indonesia – his first official overseas trip since the coup that overthrew civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Moe Zaw Oo, deputy minister of foreign affairs for the parallel “national unity government” – formed on Friday by overthrown politicians mostly from Aung San 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 on Sunday.

“It’s important that this military council is not recognised. This needs to be handled carefully.”

On Saturday, Thai foreign ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said several leaders of the 10 ASEAN countries, including Min Aung Hlaing, had confirmed they would attend the April 24 meeting in Jakarta.

The military strongman’s invitation has drawn scorn from activists who have urged foreign leaders not to formally recognise the military government.

The Southeast Asian nation has been in upheaval since the coup on February 1.

Security forces have killed at least 730 pro-democracy protesters, according to an activist group, in an attempt to crush nationwide anti-coup protests.

Meanwhile, security forces also continued targeting the media on Sunday, arresting Japanese freelance reporter Yuki Kitazumi.

He was arrested at his home in Yangon on Sunday evening, his assistant said in a message.

In February, he was beaten up and briefly detained during a crackdown on protesters but was later released.

The number of reporters arrested so far has totalled more than 65 and at least 34 remain in custody, according to monitoring group Reporting ASEAN.

Authorities announced on Sunday night on state-run television another 20 celebrities and 20 more doctors would be added to their arrest warrant list of 420 prominent people.

Protests continue

Earlier 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 news agency-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.

Late on 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 9pm. He was shot in the head,” a rescue worker told AFP news agency, adding that his funeral would take place on Sunday.

Much of Myanmar remains under a curfew imposed shortly after the coup, running from 8pm to 4am every night.

Source: News Agencies