Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing will join a special Asean summit next week, the Thai foreign ministry said yesterday, his first official trip since masterminding a coup which deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The February 1 putsch triggered a massive uprising, bringing hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets to demand a return to democracy, while civil servants have boycotted work in a bid to shutter the junta's administration.
The military has deployed lethal force to quell the anti-coup movement, killing more than 720 people and detaining some 3,100 activists, journalists and dissidents, according to a local monitoring group.
The meeting of the 10-country bloc of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is expected to address the ongoing crisis in post-coup Myanmar, and will be on April 24 in Jakarta.
The military has consistently justified the putsch by alleging widespread fraud in November's elections, which Suu Kyi's party won in a landslide.
More violence erupted yesterday in the central gem-producing city of Mogok, when security forces cracked down on protesters. A rescue worker told AFP at least one had died.
Some demonstrations -- like in Yangon and central Monywa city -- also touted support of the so-called "National Unity Government", a shadow administration formed by ousted MPs working in hiding to thwart junta rule.
The country's jails are also releasing more than 23,000 prisoners nationwide, a prison official told AFP yesterday -- part of its annual amnesty for Myanmar's New Year.
There have been two other mass releases since the coup. The first was in mid-February, which rights groups feared was a move to free up space for military opponents, and the second on the eve of Armed Forces Day when the regime released around 900 detained demonstrators.