Myanmar’s minorities join protest as anger over death simmers

International Desk
20 February 2021, Sat
Published: 07:01

Myanmar’s minorities join protest as anger over death simmers

Members of Myanmar ethnic groups protested on Saturday in a show of opposition to the coup that removed the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, despite some misgivings about her commitment to their aspirations for autonomy, community representatives said.

The latest development comes as Myanmar’s neighboring countries seek new path to resolve the worsening crisis, with Indonesia proposing to convene a meeting in a bid to restore democracy in the country.

Protests against the coup that overthrew the elected government of the veteran democracy campaigner have taken place across the diverse country since February 1, even though the military has promised to hold a new election and hand power to the winner.

A young female protester died on Friday after being shot in the head last week as police dispersed a crowd in the capital, Naypyidaw – the first death among opponents of the coup – a development that would likely galvanise further the forces against the military generals.

The United States was saddened by the death and condemned the use of force against demonstrators, a State Department spokesman said.

The army says one policeman has also died of injuries sustained in a protest.

Meanwhile, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a phone call with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi to discuss the latest situation in Myanmar, according to Xinhua news agency.

The continuing turbulence in Myanmar is neither in the interests of Myanmar and its people, nor in the common interests of other regional countries, Wang was quoted as saying.

He also said that Beijing welcomes Indonesia’s initiative, and stands ready to conduct “close coordination” with ASEAN “in de-escalating the situation.”

The demonstrators are demanding the restoration of the elected government, the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and others and the scrapping of a 2008 constitution, drawn up under military supervision, that gives the army a decisive role in politics.

Ke Jung, a youth leader from the Naga minority and an organiser of the Saturday protest by the minorities in the main city of Yangon, said the protesters were also demanding a federal system.

“We can’t form a federal country under dictatorship. We can’t accept the junta,” he told the Reuters news agency.

Members of the LGBTQ community are also among the most visible participants in the continuing protests against the coup leaders, expressing their opposition in creative ways, using costumes. Source: Al Jazeera