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Myanmar Coup

ASEAN neighbors call for Myanmar dialogue as violence continues

International community fears brutal crackdown leading up to military holiday

Anti-coup protesters stand with makeshift shields during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, Friday.   © AP

HANOI -- A growing number of Southeast Asian nations have urged Myanmar's military to hold dialogue with protesting citizens to reach a peaceful resolution as concerns grow over a violent crackdown ahead of a major holiday. 

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Le Thi Thu Hang, the spokesperson for Vietnam's Foreign Ministry, called for all parties in Myanmar to refrain from violence and engage in dialogue with each other.

"We are deeply concerned about the escalating casualties in Myanmar," said Hang.

Thailand's foreign ministry issued a similar statement the same day, echoing a proclamation from Cambodia's foreign ministry on Tuesday.

The international community is concerned that the Myanmar military will ramp up its crackdown on demonstrators ahead of Armed Forces Day on March 27. The holiday commemorates the 1945 uprising against Japanese occupation forces led by Aung San, Suu Kyi's father.

A military parade is slated to be held in the capital of Naypyitaw during Armed Forces Day. A large number of people were killed when the military suppressed demonstrators in 1988 and 2007.

Including Myanmar, the four countries are part of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The recent remarks reiterate the statement released by ASEAN's chair following last Tuesday's virtual meeting by the bloc's foreign ministers.

"We expressed our concern on the situation in Myanmar and called on all parties to refrain from instigating further violence, and for all sides to exercise utmost restraint as well as flexibility," the document read.

Myanmar's military has so far ignored the ASEAN statement, with at least 12 people killed Thursday from gunshots aimed at demonstrators, according to Reuters.

ASEAN nations are alarmed by the continuing violence, which prompted them to "issue individual statements," according to a Thai diplomatic source.

The protests continued Friday in Yangon and other parts of Myanmar. A military spokesperson issued a statement that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi is being investigated for the additional charge of corruption, triggering outrage among activists.

Russia and China, which hold sway over ASEAN nations, have treaded delicately on the situation. But both nations have endorsed Wednesday's United Nations Security Council presidential statement that "strongly condemns the violence against peaceful protestors." A presidential statement is a step below a resolution but is part of the official record of the U.N.'s strongest body.

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