Myanmar’s ruling military, which faces nationwide protests against the coup that ousted the elected government three months ago, has said it will not accept a visit from an envoy to Southeast Asia until it could establish stability, raising concerns about its intent deadly violence against protesters and ethnic minorities.
The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries reached consensus on five points at a summit on the Myanmar crisis last month, which was attended by the architect of the February 1 coup, Chief General Min Aung Hlaing.
These included an end to the violence, a dialogue between the military and its opponents, the authorization of humanitarian aid and the authorization of a visit by an ASEAN special envoy.
“Right now, we are prioritizing the security and stability of the country,” Major Kaung Htet San, a spokesperson for the military council, said on Friday.
“Only after reaching a certain level of security and stability will we cooperate with this envoy.”
The military government would heed the suggestions made at the summit if they were helpful to its visions for the country, he added.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup, which angered a public unwilling to tolerate a return to military rule after five decades of economic mismanagement and underdevelopment.
Protests and marches have taken place almost daily, the latest being a large pro-democracy protest on Friday in the commercial capital Yangon, and smaller protests in at least 10 other locations across the country.
No more arrests without warrant, detentions
At least 774 people have been killed and more than 3,700 detained as part of the military crackdown on opponents, according to an advocacy group monitoring the crisis.
Social media posts on Saturday said several people in Yangon had been taken away by security forces without a warrant.
The army said it was fighting “terrorists”. Spokesman Kaung Htet San said on Friday that more arrests of instigators of violence had been made than publicly announced.
The April 24 ASEAN meeting in Jakarta was hailed as a success by those who attended, but analysts and activists remain skeptical about the implementation of the five-point plan by the Myanmar generals, who had no timeline or mention of the release of political prisoners, including the deposed leader Aung. San Suu Kyi.
Kaung Htet San said ASEAN leaders had provided positive suggestions to Min Aung Hlaing, but whether or not they would be followed up depended on the situation in Myanmar, and whether their ideas were “useful for our future visions.”
30 soldiers were reportedly killed on Friday in clashes with the Kachin Independence Army, an ethnic insurgent, in Myanmar’s Kachin state. Sources told RFA that clashes have also intensified between the military and the Karen National Liberation Army in Karen State.
– Radio Free Asia (@RadioFreeAsia) May 7, 2021
The conflicts have revived
The prospect of stability in the near future in Myanmar looks grim, with a resumption of conflict between the military and ethnic minority groups in border areas and minor bombings and explosions now taking place regularly in its main towns.
The military said it was fighting rogue elements of the ethnic armies and that all parties remained committed to a nationwide ceasefire.
He also blamed the wave of city bombings on supporters of the ousted government of Aung San Suu Kyi. At least four bombings were reported early on Saturday.
A recently formed national unity government, a coalition of anti-military groups, said the military orchestrated the bombings as a pretext to crush its opponents.
Two local media reported on Friday that Kachin Independence Army (KIA) fighters attacked and killed 30 Burmese soldiers as they attempted to travel on a river, citing locals and a KIA source.
The KIA has also accused the military of using restricted chemical bombs in the ongoing airstrikes, according to reports from Kachin State.
Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the information due to reporting restrictions.
Kaung Htet San said violence and armed conflict would be dealt with by the military “in an appropriate manner”.
The military has for months limited internet access in an attempt to disrupt the anti-coup movement and this week banned satellite TV receivers from outside broadcasts.
Kaung Htet San said the military respects the public’s right to access information, but overseas-based social networks are being used to share information “very alarming for national security.”
He also said security would be stepped up to protect strategic gas pipelines, following an attack on security personnel at a location near Mandalay this week.
Myanmar has two oil and gas pipelines that stretch across the country to China, a country many in Myanmar believe allowed generals to amass vast personal wealth from natural resources in a time of sanctions. crippling and international isolation.
China has said it takes no sides in the conflict and wants a stable Myanmar.
Meanwhile, the Washington, DC-based American Campaign 4 Burma continues to pressure the United Nations Security Council to help end the violence in Myanmar by supporting a global arms embargo against it. army, which provoked the coup.
“An arms embargo, while not a solution to all of Burma’s problems, will greatly increase the security of the Burmese people, including all ethnic and religious minorities,” the group said, referring to country by its old name.