First court appearance for deposed leader . . .
On Monday, Aung San Suu Kyi made her first public appearance since February 1, when she was placed under house arrest as part of a military coup. Amid threats by the junta-appointed Union Election Commission to dissolve her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), over alleged election fraud, the ousted civilian leader said that the NLD “will exist as long as the people exist.” Suu Kyi faces several criminal charges, which many critics say are politically motivated. If convicted, she could be barred from running in future elections. While the military continues to maintain that it will hold new elections within a year, it reportedly removed the mandatory retirement age for generals, which would allow junta leader Min Aung Hlaing to continue serving after he turns 65 in July.
Shifting to the offensive . . .
While non-violent protests against the junta continue daily, reports of armed resistance are growing across the country. Earlier this month, Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG) announced that it had formed a military wing to consolidate its opposition to the junta. Meanwhile, more civilians in ethnic villages continue to be arbitrarily arrested, killed, or displaced by military offensives. Even in cities like Yangon, explosions have occurred frequently in public areas such as schools, causing fear among the people and prompting some to form militias armed with homemade weapons. Ethnic armed groups are also stepping in to provide arms and rudimentary training to dissidents.
ASEAN Summit one month later . . .
With the death toll now surpassing 800, observers worry that delayed action to stop the violence will only help the junta cement its hold on power. However, a month after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) convened in Jakarta to discuss the situation in Myanmar, there has been no follow-through on members’ so-called five-point consensus, which includes calls for the immediate cessation of violence and the appointment of a special envoy to visit Myanmar, among other measures. While the inaction once again reveals the divergence among member states’ interests and positions on the issue, an ASEAN-mediated diplomatic solution is one of the few options that countries in the region – including China – and Western countries can agree on. Meanwhile, Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. have imposed additional sanctions on individuals and entities tied to the junta.
- Associated Press: UN envoy warns of possible civil war in Myanmar, seeks talks
- East Asia Forum: On Myanmar, ASEAN needs to maintain the momentum
- Frontier Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi defiant in first comments since coup