Myanmar generals rule out envoy visit until ‘stability’ established

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By Daniel Bellamy  with AFP
Myanmar generals rule out envoy visit until ‘stability’ established
Copyright  AP/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

More than three months after Myanmar’s military staged a coup on February 1, the protests to restore civilian rule continue across the country.

In the southern city of Dawei, hundreds of engineers, teachers, and university students marched peacefully on Saturday.

In other areas, mass peaceful protests are still being broken up by force, while in some remote areas, groups opposed to the ruling junta have occasionally ambushed security forces, leading to bloody clashes.

After the military government began using lethal force to suppress demonstrations, protesters in some towns and neighbourhoods began organising themselves into home-grown militias or defence groups.

On Wednesday, the anti-military shadow government formed by elected lawmakers who were barred from taking office by the military announced a plan to unify these local groups into a national ``People's Defence Force "which would serve as a precursor to a ``Federal Union Army'' of democratic forces including ethnic minorities.

Meanwhile, the military continues to refuse a visit by an envoy from the regional body the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

It says that can only happen when "stability" returns, but many fear the military equates that with crushing the opposition and the protests.

“Right now, we are prioritising the security and stability of the country,” Major Kaung Htet San, a spokesman for the military council, told a televised briefing on Friday.

“Only after we achieve a certain level of security and stability, we will cooperate regarding that envoy,” he said.

So far 774 people have been killed and 3,788 detained in the military’s crackdown on its opponents, according to Myanmar's Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The 75-year-old pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained for over three months and is awaiting trial.