Residents show aloha for Burma

  • Hawaii Island residents took to the street Friday to show their support for the Burmese community and protest the military coup in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. (Brent T. Madison/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Hawaii Island residents took to the street Friday to show their support for the Burmese community and protest the military coup in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. (Brent T. Madison/Special to West Hawaii Today)

About 20 people took to the street Friday to show their support for the Burmese community and protest the military coup in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

Among the attendees of the sign waving event along Queen Kaahumanu Highway organized by Cilla Behic were Hawaii Island residents who formerly lived near the Myanmar border and worked for Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian aid organization. Former refugees also took part.

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Since overthrowing the civilian-led government in February, the junta has killed more than 750 protesters throughout the country with nearly 3,500 others detained or sentenced to prison, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

On Monday, Myanmar’s military government rebuffed a plan by Southeast Asian leaders to help end violence in the country, saying any “suggestions” would need to fit with the junta’s stated roadmap and come after “stability” is restored.

Leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including coup chief Min Aung Hlaing, appeared to reach a five-point “consensus” on Myanmar during a special summit in Jakarta on Saturday that included an “immediate cessation of violence” following the military takeover on Feb. 1. It also said the bloc would appoint an envoy to mediate talks between “all parties” in Myanmar.

But in a press release on Monday, the military’s State Administration Council only said the “suggestions” made by Asean leaders “would be positively considered” if they facilitate the junta’s own platform and “served the interest of the country.”

“Myanmar informed the meeting that it will give careful consideration to constructive suggestions made by Asean leaders when the situation returns to stability in the country since priorities at the moment were to maintain law and order and to restore community peace and tranquility,” the junta said in the release, which was also presented to the Asean Secretariat in Jakarta.

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The Myanmar statement lowers expectations that the dialogue process will prompt the military to release Aung San Suu Kyi and other detained civilian leaders, or alter a plan to hold a fresh election in early 2022 following a yearlong period of emergency rule. The move to appoint a special envoy is unusual for Asean, which traditionally has avoided direct interventions into domestic political disputes, and had been welcomed by Myanmar’s opposition.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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