Despite constant effort by Southeast Asian neighbours to end the month-long crisis in Myanmar, protesters show no signs of slowing down against a military coup.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) failed to make any breakthrough in a virtual meeting on Myanmar by its 10 foreign ministers. While they were united over call for restraint, only four members – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore – called for the release of detainees including Suu Kyi.
“We expressed ASEAN’s readiness to assist Myanmar in a positive, peaceful and constructive manner,” said a statement by the ASEAN chair Brunei.
The military-appointed foreign minister attended an ASEAN meeting that “exchanged views on regional and international issues”, but made no mention of the purpose of the talks. Local media reported that Wunna Maung Lwin “apprised the meeting of voting irregularities” in last November’s election.
The military justified the coup saying its complaints of voter fraud were ignored. Suu Kyi’s party won the election by a landslide, earning a second five year term. The election commission said the vote was fair.
Junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has said the intervention was to protect Myanmar’s fledgling democracy and has pledged to hold new elections, but did not mention of a time frame.
ASEAN’s meeting drew criticism from inside Myanmar, with concerns it would legitimise the junta and not help the country.
Tuesday’s evening news bulletin on Myanmar state television said agitators were mobilising people on social media and forming “illegal organisations”.
It said tear gas, stun guns grenades and electrical charges were used to disperse crowds in Yangon and 12 rioters were arrested.
People came to their balconies in parts of Yangon, after dark, to chant anti-military slogans, including “the revolution must succeed”. Others banged pots and pans loudly in a nightly ritual of defiance.
According to a journalist at the scene, security forces fired warning shots into the air as protesters gathered at one site in the commercial capital Yangon early on Wednesday.
At least 21 people have been killed since the Feb. 1 coup against Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government, and police opened fire to break up crowds again on Tuesday.
An activist in Chin State said strikes were taking place in nearly all of its townships on Wednesday.
A group tracking arrests said dozens more people may have been detained on Tuesday, including a protest organiser who it said was taken away at gunpoint by security personnel in unmarked cars.