Myanmar activists slam ASEAN-junta consensus, vow to continue protests

Smoke rises after protesters burn tires as they gather to continue their protest against military coup and detention of elected government members in Yangon, Myanmar on March 27, 2021.

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Myanmar’s pro-democracy activists sharply criticized an agreement between the country’s junta chief and Southeast Asian leaders to end the nation’s violent post-coup crisis and vowed on Sunday to continue their protest campaign.

Some scattered peaceful protests took place in Myanmar’s big cities on Sunday, a day after the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Jakarta, Indonesia, reached a consensus to end the turmoil in the country, but gave no timeline.

“Whether it is ASEAN or the U.N., they will only speak from outside saying don’t fight but negotiate and solve the issues. But that doesn’t reflect Myanmar’s ground situation,” said Khin Sandar from a protest group called the General Strikes Collaboration Committee.

“We will continue the protests. We have plans to do so,” she told Reuters by phone.

According to a statement from ASEAN chair Brunei, a consensus was reached in Jakarta on five points – ending violence, a constructive dialogue among all parties, a special ASEAN envoy to facilitate the dialogue, acceptance of aid and a visit by the envoy to Myanmar.

The five-point consensus did not mention political prisoners, although the chairman’s statement said the meeting “heard calls” for their release.

ASEAN leaders had wanted a commitment from Min Aung Hlaing to restrain his security forces, which the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) says have killed 748 people since a mass civil disobedience movement erupted to challenge his Feb. 1 coup against the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

AAPP, a Myanmar activist group, says over 3,300 are in detention.

“We realized that whatever the outcome from the ASEAN meeting, it will not reflect what people want,” said Wai Aung a protest organizer in Yangon. “We will keep up protests and strikes till the military regime completely fails.”

‘Slap on the face’

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