The ruling military in Myanmar, which faced nationwide protests three months ago against the coup that ousted the elected government, has said it would not consent to a visit from a Southeast Asian envoy if it could create stability, which raises concerns that it would accomplish more deadly violence against protesters and ethnic minorities.
The heads of state and government of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reached a consensus on five points last month at a summit on the Myanmar crisis that was attended by the architect of the February 1 coup, Major General Min Aung Hlaing.
These included ending the violence, dialogue between the military and its opponents, enabling humanitarian aid and allowing a special ASEAN envoy to visit.
“At the moment we are prioritizing the security and stability of the country,” Major Kaung Htet San, a spokesman for the military council, said on television on Friday.
“Only when we have achieved a certain level of security and stability will we work together on this envoy.”
The military government would consider proposals made at the summit if they would help in their visions for the country, he added.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup that sparked the anger of a public unwilling to tolerate a return to military rule after five decades of economic mismanagement and underdevelopment.
Protests and marches took place most days, most recently a large demonstration for democracy on Friday in the commercial capital of Yangon and smaller protests in at least ten other locations across the country.
More illegal arrests, detentions
At least 774 people were killed and more than 3,700 were arrested while the military cracked down on opponents, according to an advocacy group monitoring the crisis.
It was reported on social media on Saturday that several people in Yangon had been arrested by security forces without an arrest warrant.
The military said it was fighting “terrorists”. On Friday, spokesman Kaung Htet San said more arrests of instigators of violence had been made than publicly announced.
The April 24 ASEAN meeting in Jakarta was hailed as a success by attendees, but analysts and activists remain skeptical that Myanmar’s generals will implement the five-point plan, which has neither a timeframe nor the release of political prisoners, including the fallen Leader Aung, mentioned San Suu Kyi.
Kaung Htet San said ASEAN leaders had made positive suggestions to Min Aung Hlaing, but whether or not they were followed depends on the situation in Myanmar and whether their ideas “help our future visions”.
30 soldiers were reportedly killed in clashes with the ethnic insurgent Kachin Independence Army in Kachin State, Myanmar, on Friday. Sources told the RFA that clashes had also occurred between the military and the Karen National Liberation Army in Karen State.
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The prospect of imminent stability in Myanmar seems bleak, as the conflict between the military and ethnic minorities in the border areas reignites and minor bombings and explosions take place regularly in the capital cities.
The military said it is fighting rogue elements of ethnic armies and all parties remain committed to a nationwide ceasefire.
It has also blamed supporters of the ousted Aung San Suu Kyi government for the spate of bombings in the city. At least four bombings were reported early Saturday.
A recently formed National Unity Government, a coalition of anti-military groups, said the military had orchestrated the bombings as a pretext to destroy its opponents.
Two local media outlets reported Friday that Kachin Independence Army (KIA) fighters attacked and killed 30 Myanmar troops while trying to travel on a river, citing local people and a KIA source.
The KIA also accused the military of using restricted chemical bombs in recent air strikes, news from Kachin state reported.
Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the information due to reporting restrictions.
Kaung Htet San said violence and armed conflict were “appropriately” handled by the military.
Elderly King Village villagers are taking a break Friday after fleeing fighting that erupted between villagers and the Myanmar military in Kani community in Sagaing region [Handout/Anonymous via AFP]The military has had limited internet access for months to disrupt the anti-coup movement, and this week satellite TV receivers were banned from outside broadcasts.
Kaung Htet San said the military respects the public’s right to access information, but overseas social networks are used to share material that is “very alarming to national security”.
He also said security would be strengthened to protect strategic gas pipelines following an attack on security guards at a location near Mandalay earlier this week.
Myanmar has two oil and gas pipelines that stretch across the country as far as China. Many in Myanmar believe that it enabled generals to amass enormous personal wealth from natural resources in a time of crippling sanctions and international isolation.
China has said it does not take sides in the conflict and wants Myanmar to be stable.
Meanwhile, Washington, DC-based US Campaign 4 Burma continues to urge the United Nations Security Council to stop violence in Myanmar by supporting a global arms embargo against the country’s military that sparked the coup.
“While an arms embargo is not a solution to all problems in Burma, it does significantly increase the security of the people of Burma, including all ethnic and religious minorities,” the group said, referring to the country by its old name.