Myanmar military crackdown death toll tops 850: Watchdog

Myanmar’s military junta has killed eight more people in the country, raising the death toll in protests against the Feb. 1 coup to 857, according to a local monitoring group.

Two men were killed after being chased on a motorbike and crashed into by a military vehicle in Pyigyidagun Township, Mandalay Region, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said in its latest update.

On the same night, the group said, Chit Ko, a local treasurer of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the ruling party ousted by the military, was arrested in Bhamo Township, Kachin State.

Three civilians from Nat Myaung and Nat Chaung Village in Kale Township, Sagaing Region, were beaten and arrested, it added.

A total of 4,677 people are currently under detention in Myanmar, with 162 of them having been sentenced.

‘Slow progress on resolving crisis is disappointing’

Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday expressed his disappointment at the “very very slow” progress being made to resolve the ongoing crisis in Myanmar.

In a doorstop interview over the phone on Monday, he said the situation in Myanmar is among the issues discussed at the meeting between foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China in Chongqing.

“Unfortunately, we know that there are still civilians who have been hurt or killed. There has been no release of political detainees, there has been no real sign of meaningful political dialogue and negotiation. So we’ll have to watch this space,” he said.

In April, the leaders of ASEAN countries agreed on a five-point consensus on the Myanmar crisis as the result of a high-level meeting in Jakarta.

The consensus includes calling for an end to violence in Myanmar, establishing a special ASEAN envoy, and providing humanitarian assistance to Myanmar.

“And even the appointment of an ASEAN envoy only makes sense if there is a genuine desire within Myanmar itself for genuine dialogue and negotiations and reconciliation. So this is still a work in progress,” the minister said.

Balakrishnan reiterated that ASEAN’s main role is not to interfere, as “in the end, only the people themselves within Myanmar can determine its future”.

“But ASEAN stands ready to help, to be supportive, to facilitate mediation if possible, but we will have to wait. It’s disappointing but let’s not give up hope.”

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