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Thailand concerned over violence in Myanmar

By Reuters Staff, published by MSN News

THAILAND has expressed concern about the violence in many parts of Myanmar and called on its neighbour to take action and end the turmoil roiling the country since a February 1 coup.

Myanmar’s military has shown little sign of heeding the “Five-Point Consensus” agreed among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in April, which calls for an end to violence, political talks and the naming of a regional special envoy.

“We have been following developments in Myanmar closely with much concern, especially incidents of violence in many parts of the country,” Tanee Sangrat, spokesman for the Thai foreign ministry, said in a statement today (June 6).

He reiterated a call for an end to the violence, the release of all detainees and the “concrete implementation of the Five-Point Consensus” as soon as possible.

The military has failed to impose control since seizing power from elected leader Aug San Suu Kyi, who is among more than 4,500 people detained since the coup. A rights group says at least 847 people have been killed, but the military disputes that figure.

Meanwhile, daily protests against the military have evolved in parts of Myanmar into armed uprisings while decade-old ethnic conflicts have flared anew.

Opponents of the military have voiced frustration at the lack of tough action by Asean and say the meeting of two representatives of the group with coup leader Min Aung Hlaing on Friday gave him greater legitimacy but brought no benefit.

Thailand has a longer border with Myanmar than any other country and fears the conflict could bring a flood of refugees.

“Much of what Thailand has done may not have been made public, as we believe that quiet and discreet diplomacy between neighbours would be more effective and in line with traditional Thai diplomacy,” Tanee said.

More violence rocked Myanmar on Saturday with local media and residents saying at least 20 people were killed by Myanmar’s security forces in the Ayeyarwady river delta region after villagers armed with catapults and crossbows fought back against troops searching for weapons.

That would make it the heaviest civilian death toll in nearly two months.

Reuters was unable to reach a junta spokesman on Saturday for comment on the violence at Hlayswe village in Kyonpyaw township in the Ayeyarwady Region. Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

Clashes broke out before dawn on Saturday at Hlayswe, some 150 km (100 miles) northwest of the main city of Yangon, when soldiers said they had come to search for weapons, at least four local media outlets and a resident said.

“The people in the village only have crossbows and there are a lot of casualties on the people’s side,” said the resident, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution.

Khit Thit Media and the Delta News Agency said 20 civilians had been killed and more wounded. They said villagers had tried to fight back with catapults after soldiers assaulted villagers in what they said was a search for arms.

It was some of the worst violence since the coup in the Ayeyarwady region, an important rice growing area that has large populations of both the Bamar majority ethnic group, from which much of the army is drawn, and the Karen minority.

Ethnic armies

Saturday’s civilian death toll appeared to be the highest since more than 80 people were reported killed in the town of Bago in early April.

Since the coup, conflicts have flared in the borderlands where some two dozen ethnic armies have been waging insurgencies for decades. The junta has also been faced by daily protests and paralyzing strikes.

The anti-junta Shwegu People’s Defence Force said it had attacked a police station in northern Shwegu late on Friday together with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

Reuters was unable to reach the KIA for comment.

In eastern Myanmar, the MBPDF (Mobye People’s Defence Force) said it had clashed with the army on Friday and four “terrorist soldiers” had been killed.

CAPTIONS:
Top: Protesters against Myanmar’s military takeover burn the Asean flag in Mandalay, Myanmar, June 5, 2021. Photo: Reuters/Stringer and published by Al Jazeera/MSN News

Home Page: People flash the three-finger salute during a flash mob protest in Yangon on June 3, 2021. Photo: Reuters and published by The Straits Times

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