Asean urges Nay Pyi Taw to free Aung San Suu Kyi

Asean urges Nay Pyi Taw to free Aung San Suu Kyi

YANGON: Myanmar's neighbours pressed its ruling military yesterday to release ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and cease what Singapore called the disastrous use of lethal force against opponents of their Feb 1 coup and work out a solution to the crisis.

The calls from fellow members of Asean came as Myanmar police again opened fire to disperse crowds after weeks of demonstrations against military rule. Several people were wounded.

Asean foreign ministers held talks with a representative of the junta in a video call two days after the bloodiest day of unrest since the military overthrew Ms Suu Kyi's elected government.

At least 21 people have been killed since the coup, which Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an interview with the BBC was a "tragic" step back for Myanmar.

The foreign minister of Indonesia, which has been pushing a regional diplomatic effort, urged Myanmar to "open its doors" to the Asean bloc.

Speaking to reporters in Jakarta, the minister, Retno Marsudi, called for the release of political detainees and for the restoration of democracy, while pledging that Asean countries would not break their pledge of not interfering in each other's affairs.

"Restoring democracy back on track must be pursued," Ms Retno said.

"Indonesia underlines that the will, the interest and the voices of the people of Myanmar must be respected."

The bloc's effort to engage with Myanmar's military has been criticised by supporters of democracy, with a committee of ousted Myanmar lawmakers declaring the junta a terrorist group and saying Asean's engagement would give it legitimacy.

Sa Sa, the committee's anointed envoy to the United Nations, said Asean should have no dealings with "this illegitimate military-led regime".

At the conclusion of the Informal Asean Ministerial Meeting, Brunei as the chair of the meeting, said: "We expressed our concern on the situation in Myanmar and called on all parties to refrain from instigating further violence. We also called on all parties concerned to seek a peaceful solution ... In this regard, we expressed Asean's readiness to assist Myanmar in a positive, peaceful and constructive manner.

Meanwhile in Bangkok, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said all Asean nations want to see an end to the conflict in Myanmar, before urging both sides to agree to their opponents' demands so the country can move forward.

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