Local news

Prayut opts to not attend Asean summit

PRIME Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has decided to not attend the Asean summit taking place in Jakarta on Saturday April 24 and instead has assigned Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai to do so in his place, Siam Rath newspaper said this afternoon (April 19).

Many countries are watching this summit as Myanmar junta leader Gen Min Aung Hlaing will be participating with this being his first known foreign trip since seizing power on February 1.

Mass protests that have wracked Myanmar since then and security forces have killed  hundreds of people, including children, in their effort to stamp out the resistance.

Meanwhile Myanmar’s shadow government has urged Southeast Asian leaders to give it a seat at the table during crisis talks on Saturday, and not to recognise the military rulers that seized power in the February coup, Al Jazeera quoted wire agencies as saying today.

Moe Zaw Oo, deputy minister of foreign affairs for the parallel “national unity government” – formed on Friday by overthrown politicians mostly from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, as well as ethnic-minority politicians – said Asean had not reached out to them.

“If Asean wants to help solve the Myanmar situation, they are not going to achieve anything without consulting and negotiating with the NUG, which is supported by the people and has full legitimacy,” he told Voice of America’s Burmese service on Sunday.

“It’s important that this military council is not recognised. This needs to be handled carefully.”

Meanwhile, security forces also continued targeting the media on Sunday, arresting Japanese freelance reporter Yuki Kitazumi.

He was arrested at his home in Yangon on Sunday evening, his assistant said in a message.

In February, he was beaten up and briefly detained during a crackdown on protesters but was later released.

The number of reporters arrested so far has totalled more than 65 and at least 34 remain in custody, according to monitoring group Reporting Asean.

Authorities announced on Sunday night on state-run television another 20 celebrities and 20 more doctors would be added to their arrest warrant list of 420 prominent people.

Protests continue

Earlier unrest continued across the country on Sunday, with protesters rallying in Mandalay, Meiktila, Magway and Myingyan, showing support for the national unity government.

At Palaw in the country’s south, demonstrators brandished banners that read: “Military dictators should not be allowed to rule. The dictatorship will be uprooted. Support the national unity government.”

Young demonstrators also staged motorbike rallies while carrying flags in Hpakant and Sagaing.

The previous night, there were violent clashes in the central gem-producing city of Mogok when security forces cracked down on protesters.

According to an AFP news agency-verified video filmed by a resident, soldiers crouched on a street as their commanding officer shouted that he wanted “deaths”.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) verified two deaths at Mogok.

Late on Saturday, a young man was shot and killed in Kyaukme town in northern Shan state while riding his motorbike during the curfew.

“He was shot by the authorities when he and other his friends drove motorbikes around 9 p.m. He was shot in the head,” a rescue worker told AFP news agency, adding that his funeral would take place on Sunday.

Much of Myanmar remains under a curfew imposed shortly after the coup, running from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. every night.


Top: A composite photo showing Thai Prime Minister Prayut, right, Thai Foreign Minister Don, left, and Myanmar junta leader Gen Min Aung Hlaing, centre. Photo: Siam Rath



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