Free detainees, govt tells junta

Free detainees, govt tells junta

Another seven die in pitched street battles

Protesters stand by a large pipe set up to build a barricade as they take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on Thursday.(Photo: AFP)
Protesters stand by a large pipe set up to build a barricade as they take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on Thursday.(Photo: AFP)

The government has asked Myanmar to release detainees against the backdrop of intensified protests in which seven more protesters were killed.

The junta reacted to international condemnation of its crackdown by claiming ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi had accepted hefty illegal payments. The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday called for the release of detainees in Myanmar and urging all parties to seek a peaceful solution for Myanmar and its people through dialogue.

"As a next-door neighbour sharing a long common border, with Myanmar and Thais having close interaction in many aspects, Thailand continues to follow developments in Myanmar with much concern. As with other countries, we are saddened by the loss of lives and sufferings of the people of Myanmar due to escalating violence in the country," the ministry said.

It reiterated statements by Brunei, Asean's chair, on Feb 1 and March 2, which called on all sides in Myanmar to exercise utmost restraint as well as flexibility. "We call for a de-escalation of the situation and release of detainees. We also urge all parties concerned to seek a peaceful solution for Myanmar and its people through dialogue via any constructive channels," the ministry said in a statement.

Demonstrators stay low to the ground during an anti-coup protest in Myaing, Magway, Myanmar yesterday. (Photo: Reuters)

"Thailand supports Asean's readiness to assist Myanmar, an Asean family member, in a positive, peaceful and constructive manner," the ministry said.

Diplomatic pressure has been building since the generals seized power on Feb 1, triggering daily protests around the country that they have struggled to quell. The United Nations on Wednesday condemned the junta's increasingly violent crackdown, which has seen more than 60 killed and 2,000 arrested, with even China -- a traditional Myanmar ally -- calling for "de-escalation" and dialogue.

On Thursday saw more hardline action against demonstrators, with six killed in central Myanmar's Myaing township. "Six men were shot dead while eight people were wounded -- with one man in a critical condition," a rescue worker said.

A witness said five of them were shot in the head. There was also a fatality in Yangon's North Dagon, where Chit Min Thu, 25, died after being shot in the head.

"I recently learnt that his wife is two months pregnant," his mother Hnin Malar Aung said. "No one will be in peace until this situation ends. They were so cruel with my son. I never expected my son would be shot in the head.... I'm worried about all the unarmed youth, they will be in trouble."

The military, which has defended its takeover by citing voting irregularities in November elections won by Ms Suu Kyi's party, held a rare news conference on Thursday accusing Ms Suu Kyi of corruption.

In the capital Nay Pyi Taw, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said the detained chief minister of Yangon had admitted giving Ms Suu Kyi US$600,000 (18.3 million baht) in cash, along with more than 11 kilogrammes of gold.

Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi, detained since the Feb 1 putsch, is already facing several criminal charges including owning unlicensed walkie-talkies and violating coronavirus restrictions.

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