• Monday, May 17, 2021
  • Last Update : 01:26 am

Myanmar activists hold blue shirt protests; report says junta chief to attend summit

  • Published at 01:23 pm April 21st, 2021
Myanmar protest
People attend sit-in protest and prayer ceremony for those who have died during protests against Myanmar's military coup in Kyat Sar Pyin Quarter, Dawei, Myanmar April 20, 2021 Reuters

An activist group says 738 people have been killed by security forces since the coup and 3,300 people are currently in detention

Myanmar anti-coup activists launched protests on Wednesday calling for the release of detained prisoners, as Nikkei Asia reported that junta chief General Min Aung Hlaing would attend a regional summit to discuss the crisis in the country.

Spokesman Zaw Min Tun said the military commander would attend the leaders' meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Jakarta, Indonesia on Saturday, the online service of the Japanese news magazine reported.

Reuters could not reach the spokesman for confirmation.

The Southeast Asian country has been in crisis since the military seized power from Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government on February 1, with almost daily protests against the coup despite a lethal crackdown by the junta in which hundreds of people have been killed.

Also read - Asean calls summit on Myanmar crisis as EU imposes sanctions

Asean has been trying to guide fellow member Myanmar out of the bloody turmoil triggered by the coup, but the 10-nation group's principles of consensus and non-interference have restricted its ability to overcome members' divergent views on how to respond to the army's killing of hundreds of civilians.

Myanmar's military has shown little willingness to engage with its neighbours and no sign of wanting to talk to members of the government it ousted, accusing some of them of treason, which is punishable by death.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an activist group, says 738 people have been killed by security forces since the coup and 3,300 people are currently in detention, including 20 who have been sentenced to death.

On Wednesday, people shared photos on social media wearing blue shirts and holding up a hand with the name of an arrested person written on it.

The shirts are a tribute to pro-democracy activist Win Tin who was imprisoned by the military for 19 years and died on April 21, 2014. After his release, he pledged to wear a blue shirt until all political prisoners were freed.

"Please raise your voice and demand the release of all the people who are being unfairly detained under the junta government," protest leader Ei Thinzar Maung said on Facebook.

The junta has released thousands of people from jail since the coup but relatively few have been linked to the protests. Meanwhile, military-backed television broadcaster MWD reported on Tuesday that the home affairs ministry had declared a National Unity Government (NUG) formed by opponents of the junta as unlawful.

Last week, pro-democracy politicians, including ousted members of parliament, announced the formation of NUG that nominally includes Suu Kyi, who has been in detention since the coup, as well as leaders of the protests and ethnic minorities.

The NUG says it is the legitimate authority in Myanmar and has requested international recognition and an invitation to the Jakarta meeting.

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