Myanmar junta leader set to join Asean summit | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 18, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:30 AM, April 18, 2021

Myanmar junta leader set to join Asean summit

23,000 prisoners released in New Year’s amnesty

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.

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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.  



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