Vietnam heightens restraint, end to violence in Myanmar

Vietnam heightens restraint, end to violence in Myanmar

U Aung Myo Min, a longtime human rights advocate and the director of Equality Myanmar, welcomed ASEAN leaders' efforts to stop the violence in Myanmar, but voiced disappointment that ASEAN failed to extract concrete promises from the coup leader on how he would meet their demands.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for the creation of an ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar to engage with all parties in the crisis-torn country during a gathering Saturday of Southeast Asian leaders in Jakarta. But Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that policy should not lead to inaction if a domestic situation "jeopardizes the peace, security, and stability of ASEAN and the wider region" and there is global clamor for resolute action.

It was the first time Min Aung Hlaing traveled out of Myanmar since the coup, which was followed by the arrests of Aung San Suu Kyi and many other political leaders.

"Meetings that contribute to a solution to the deepening crisis in Myanmar are welcome", the latter said in a statement.

Gen Min Aung Hlaing did not make a formal public statement.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi of Indonesia expressed hopes that "we can reach an agreement on the next steps that can help the people of Myanmar get out of this delicate situation".

While ASEAN leaders said they "heard calls for the release of all political prisoners", a commitment to free them was not included in their consensus statement. Daily shootings by police and soldiers have killed more than 700 protesters and bystanders, according to several independent tallies.

Saturday's meeting follows mass protests which have been met by a brutal crackdown that has left blood on the streets. In Myanmar, protesters took to the streets again on Saturday, including in northern Kachin state, where demonstrators wore blue shirts to symbolise detainees.

"The crisis initiated by a murderous and unrepentant Myanmar military has engulfed the country, and will cause severe aftershocks - humanitarian and more - for the entire region", rights group Amnesty International said ahead of the meeting.

"ASEAN has a policy of consensus decision-making and non-interference in the affairs of its members, which include Myanmar". Min Aung Hlaing was seen disembarking after arriving on a special flight from Naypyitaw, the Myanmar capital, according to footage on the official video channel of Indonesia's presidential palace.

Indonesian police dispersed dozens of protesters opposing the coup and the junta leader's visit. Laos, which has the least number of infections in the region but this week imposed a lockdown, also cancelled at the last minute.

"A spokesman for the opposition National Unity Government, which is not attending the summit, told Reuters the group had "been in contact with ASEAN leaders".

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