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Asia Pacific

Man killed in Myanmar two days after regional deal, local media say

5 minute read

People attend a protest against Myanmar's military coup in Launglon, Myanmar April 23, 2021 in this picture obtained by Reuters. DAWEI WATCH via REUTERS

April 26 (Reuters) - Myanmar security forces shot dead a man in the second city of Mandalay on Monday, national media reported, two days after Southeast Asian leaders said they had reached consensus with the junta on ending violence.

Activists opposed to military rule called on people to stop paying electricity bills and agricultural loans and to keep their children away from school, adding to doubts about a regional bloc's push to end Myanmar's post-coup crisis.

The man was shot dead at a fried rice shop in Mandalay late on Monday and some other people were wounded, three Myanmar media reported. Mizzima news service also said a woman had been shot dead on a motorcycle in the southern town of Dawei.

A junta spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. With most internet access cut and journalists' movements restricted, Reuters could not confirm the incidents independently.

An activist monitoring group says more than 750 people have been killed by security forces as the generals unleashed lethal force in the face of sustained protests against their Feb. 1 coup. There were more protests on Monday, but there were no immediate reports of violence at them.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing reached an agreement at a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia at the weekend on steps to bring peace.

But the junta chief did not submit to calls for the release of political prisoners, including the leader of the ousted civilian government Aung San Suu Kyi, and the ASEAN accord lacked any timeline for ending the crisis.

Activists criticised the agreement that came out of the ASEAN meeting, a so-called five-point consensus that included an end to violence, starting dialogue among all parties, accepting aid, and appointing a special ASEAN envoy who would visit Myanmar.

"We deplore the fact that the consensus was reached without any legitimate representation of the people of Myanmar," said a statement in the name of more than 400 Myanmar civil society groups, who said ASEAN should push the junta to hand over to a rival civilian unity government formed by its opponents.

The military has not officially commented on the outcome of the meeting but the state broadcaster, citing the ruling military council in its main bulletin, said: "Some of the facts from ASEAN are a good contribution so we will consider that."

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Pro-democracy activists have called for an intensification of efforts against the military from Monday by refusing to pay electricity bills and agricultural loans, and keeping children from going to school.

"We don't participate in their systems, we don't cooperate with them," activist Khant Wai Phyo told a protest meeting on Monday.

The ASEAN agreement did not mention political prisoners although the statement said the meeting heard calls for their release. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group says 3,431 people have been detained for opposing the coup.

The most prominent is Suu Kyi, 75, who has been charged with various offences including violating a colonial-era official secrets act that could see her jailed for 14 years.

She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and has led Myanmar’s struggle against military rule for decades. Her party won a second term in November.

The election commission said the vote was fair but the military said fraud at the polls had forced it to seize power.

Suu Kyi appeared via video link for a hearing in her case on Monday and again asked the court for permission to meet her lawyers in person, a member of her legal team said. She has only been allowed to speak to them by video link in the presence of security officials so far.

Police told the court they had referred her request to higher authorities and were "working on it step by step", lawyer Min Min Soe told Reuters.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said Suu Kyi had not been allowed direct contact with the lawyers because it could be an avenue for illegal communication with protest leaders and because of the COVID-19 epidemic, according to an interview with Russia's RIA news agency last week.

Her lawyers have said the charges against her were trumped up. The next hearing is on May 10.

Reporting by Reuters staff; Writing by Ed Davies and Robert Birsel; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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