Myanmar’s shadow government on Sunday called on Southeast Asian leaders to give it a seat at the table during next week’s crisis talks and not to recognize the military rule that seized power in the February coup.
Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing is expected to attend a special ASEAN conference in Myanmar in Jakarta on Saturday – his first official foreign trip since the expulsion of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The army has led a massive crackdown on protesters, killing at least 730 people, according to local observers.
Min Aung Hlaing’s invitation to a meeting of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations has been ridiculed by leaders and activists who have urged foreign leaders not to formally recognize the junta.
Moe Zaw Oo, deputy minister of foreign affairs for the parallel “national unity government”, formed Friday by ousted lawmakers mostly from Suu Kyi’s party, as well as ethnic-minority politicians — said ASEAN had not reached out to them.
“If ASEAN wants to help resolve the situation in Myanmar, they will not be able to achieve anything without consultation and negotiation with the NUG, which is supported by the people and has full legitimacy,” he told the Voice of America’s Burmese service.
“It is important not to recognize this military council. It needs to be handled with caution.”
Unrest continued across the country on Sunday, with protesters in Mandalay, Meikitla, Magway, and Myingyan demonstrating in support of the national unity government.
Protesters in Palaw in the south of the country erected a banner that read: “Military dictators should not be allowed to rule. Dictatorship will be overthrown. Support the national unity government.
Young protesters also held motorbike rallies while carrying flags in Hpakant and Sagaing.
The previous night violent clashes erupted in the central gem-producing city of Mogok when security forces stormed a rally on Friday, cracked down on protesters.
According to a video filmed by a resident (AFP verified), the army commanding officer shouted that “death” was what he wanted.
The Association for the Support of Political Prisons (AAPP) has confirmed two deaths to Mogok.
Most of Myanmar has been under curfew since the military coup, which lasts from 8 pm to 4 am every night.
Towards the end of Saturday, a young man was shot and killed while riding a motorcycle during a curfew in the town of Kyaukme town in northern Shan State.
“He was shot in the head by authorities when he and his friends were riding a motorbike around 8 pm,” the rescue worker told AFP. He added that his funeral will be held on Sunday.