Anti-coup protesters gathered in Bangkok and Tokyo yesterday to commemorate the second anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar.
The Myanmar military seized power from the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, in a coup d’état that began on the morning of February 1, 2021, when elected members of the ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), were deposed by the Tatmadaw—Myanmar’s military. Acting president Myint Swe proclaimed a state of emergency and transferred power to Commander in Chief of the army Min Aung Hlaing and stated its intent to hold a new election at the end of the state of emergency.
US-based conflict monitoring group ACLED (The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project) says about 19,000 people died last year as a crackdown on protests led many to take up arms against the military. Some 1.2 million people have been displaced and over 70,000 have left the country, according to the United Nations, which accused the military of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Myanmar’s military says it is carrying out a legitimate campaign against “terrorists.”
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post tells the story in a video.
With ASEAN’s tensions around the military coup in Myanmar reaching a climax, Aljazeera reports that the Myanmar military has been invited to take part in a regional military meeting co-chaired by Thailand and the US.
The five-day ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting is due to convene on February 20 and will include “table top” exercises.
Myanmar Now reported the invitation on Monday, saying it had received leaked documents showing the exercises would address search and rescue, piracy, and the trafficking of drugs, weapons and people.
Lieutenant Colonel Martin Meiners for the US Department of Defence told Myanmar Now that the Myanmar military had been invited in accordance with ASEAN protocols.
“Attendance at ASEAN forums is determined by ASEAN member states.”
As well as the 10 members, the meeting includes representatives from Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the US.
ASEAN struggled with how to handle the military coup in Myanmar amid the ruling generals’ failure to deliver on a plan that was supposed to end the violence since the coup. There were hopes that Indonesia, which took over the rotating chairmanship from Cambodia for 2023, would take a tougher line on Myanmar. Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, called for the ban on the generals to be extended beyond summits.
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