As neighboring countries gathered to seek a solution to the crisis created by the coup in Myanmar, security forces have resumed using lethal ammunition to shoot at protesters calling for an end to military rule and an end to the military regime. restoration of democracy.
Although in smaller proportions, in part due to the violent crackdown on the protests, hundreds of protesters have reassembled in the country’s main city, Rangoon. Most wore makeshift helmets, masks and shields to protect themselves from gunfire from rubber bullets and tear gas canisters.
No injuries were reported in Rangoon, but in Kale, in the northwest of the country, witnesses said police used live ammunition to disperse a crowd after a group of protesters threw stones and other objects on the security forces.
“They were acting like they were in a war zone,” an anonymous professor told Reuters news agency. According to reports, four people were injured. Since the protests began, at least 21 people have died as a result of police action aimed at containing opponents of the regime.
Trying to assume a mediating role in the crisis, the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held a meeting between their foreign ministers, including candidate Wunna Maung Lwin by the Myanmar military junta to take over after the deposition of the civilian government.
Asean is formed by Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.
Indonesian Chancellor Retno Marsudi reinforced her call for a collective diplomatic effort among the bloc’s member countries, but made it clear that she has Myanmar’s collaboration in resolving the crisis.
“It takes two to tango,” said the minister after the meeting. “Asean’s good intentions and availability will be meaningless if Myanmar does not open its doors.”
While calling for the release of political prisoners and the restoration of democracy, the minister reiterated the promise that ASEAN countries would not interfere in each other’s affairs.
“We must seek to get democracy back on track,” Marsudi said. “Indonesia stresses that the will, interest and voice of the people of Myanmar must be respected.”
Singaporean Chancellor Vivian Balakrishnan called the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians “inexcusable”. He also warned his colleagues about the bloc’s inability to find a common position with ASEAN, which, he said, “would strongly underline our lack of unity and undermine our credibility and relevance in as an organization “.
Besides Marsudi and Balakrishnan, only representatives from Malaysia and the Philippines also called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, who before being impeached was Myanmar’s state councilor and, in practice, the leader of the country.
Along with several other members of his party, Suu Kyi was arrested during the February 1 coup and, until Monday (1), has not been seen publicly.
She now faces four criminal charges. The first two, presented in the week of the takeover, were the illegal importation of six walkie-talkies and an alleged violation of protocols to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
At Monday’s hearing, the counselor received two more charges: one for allegedly violating a telecommunications law that stipulates licenses for equipment, and another for publishing information that may “arouse fear or alarm”, a practice opposed by the penal code dating from the colonial era. Myanmar period.
Despite ASEAN’s efforts, sources with detailed knowledge of what was discussed at the meeting told Reuters that the bloc – made up of democracies, communist states, authoritarian regimes and an absolute monarchy – failed to reach consensus or chart a path to normalcy in Myanmar. .
In a statement issued by Thailand, which chairs Asean, the group called on “all parties to refrain from provoking further violence”.
“We express ASEAN’s willingness to help Myanmar in a positive, peaceful and constructive manner,” the bloc said.
Although still unofficially, the Asean movement responds to the request of the United Nations, the United States and the European Union for the bloc to assume this role of mediation with the military who now command Myanmar.
Pro-democracy activists, however, have criticized ASEAN’s actions, saying dialogue with the armed forces would act, in practice, as a legitimization for the seizure of power.
That concern escalated on Tuesday when Malaysian chief diplomat Hishammuddin Hussein proposed that an ASEAN panel of experts could examine the alleged discrepancies found in the November election won by Suu Kyi.
The National League for Democracy (LND), the adviser’s party, won 83% of the vote and won 396 of 476 seats in parliament in Myanmar’s latest elections, held in November last year. The legend, however, was prevented from taking over when the coup was implemented on the day the new legislature was inaugurated. The military-backed Solidarity and Development Union party won only 33 seats.
The military attempted to use alleged fraud charges in the election to justify its takeover. The military also added to the narrative the argument that the country’s electoral commission used the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to prevent a fair campaign. They also claim to have acted in accordance with the Constitution and that the majority of the population supports their conduct, accusing the protesters of inciting violence.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE POLITICAL HISTORY OF MYANMAR
1948: Former British colony, Myanmar becomes an independent country 1962: General Ne Win abolishes the 1947 Constitution and establishes a military regime 1974: Beginning of the first post-independence Constitution 1988: The violent repression of demonstrations against the military regime generates international criticism 1990: National League for Democracy (LND), opposed to the regime, wins the first multiparty election in 30 years and is prevented from taking power 1991: Aung San Suu Kyi of the LND wins the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize: US, EU impose sanctions on Myanmar for human rights violations and lack of respect for 2008 election results: Assembly approves new 2011 Constitution: Thein Sein, retired general , is elected president and the military regime is dissolved 2015: The LND obtains the majority in both chambers of Parliament 2016: Htin Kyaw is elected first civilian president since the coup d’Éta t of 1962 and Suu Kyi takes over as State Councilor, a position equivalent to that of Prime Minister 2018: Kyaw resigns and Win Myi nt assumes the 2020 presidency: in the legislative elections, the LND obtains 83% of the votes and defeats pro-military party 2021: army alleges electoral fraud, arrests LND leaders and seizes power with new coup