Naypyitaw: Protesters in Myanmar clapped together on Monday in the latest show of dissent against the military junta, as a regional bloc prepared for talks on the crisis that has killed nearly 600 people.
Clapping began in various parts of the main city Yangon at 5 p.m. (1030 GMT) in response to a call by protest organisers, residents said. The gesture would honour “Ethnic Armed Organisations and Gen Z defence youths from Myanmar including Yangon who are fighting in the revolution… on behalf of us,” Ei Thinzar Maung, a protest leader, wrote on Facebook.
Despite the killing of at least 564 people by the security forces since the Feb. 1 coup, protesters have been coming out every day, often in small groups in small towns, to voice opposition to the overthrow of an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and the return of military rule. The movement, which some protesters are calling a “spring revolution”, has included street marches, a civil disobedience campaign of strikes and quirky acts of rebellion organised via social media. In addition to the crackdown on the streets, the junta has sought to suppress the campaign by shutting down wireless broadband and mobile data services.
On Monday, one person was killed in the central Sagaing region when security forces broke up a protest, the Myanmar Now news outlet reported. Earlier, demonstrators with placards of Suu Kyi and signs calling for international intervention marched through the second-biggest city Mandalay, images posted on social media showed.
Brunei, chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), threw its support on Monday behind a regional leaders’ meeting to discuss Myanmar. After talks between Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei said both countries had asked their ministers and officials to make the “necessary preparations for the meeting that will be held at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia.”
No date was given.
ASEAN operates by consensus, but the divergent views of its members on how to respond to the Myanmar army’s crackdown on civilians and the group’s policy of non-interference has limited its ability to act. Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore have all expressed alarm over the killings of demonstrators and support an urgent high-level meeting on Myanmar. Besides Brunei, the other ASEAN members are Myanmar itself, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
The United States and other Western countries have denounced the coup and called for the release of Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her campaign against military rule. She has been charged with violating an official secrets act that is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.