Three weeks after the military coup, diplomacy comes into play. On Wednesday February 24, Wunna Maung Lwin, the Burmese foreign minister appointed by the junta, traveled to Bangkok to meet with regional powers, who are trying to reach an agreement to end the deadly unrest.

The talks come as the death toll in the crackdown on the coup protests rose to five on Wednesday, as a local relief organization announced the death of a protester in custody.

“Avoid bloodshed”

It has been several weeks since the Burmese army has come under fire from international condemnation for toppling the head of the civilian government, Aung San Suu Kyi, in a putsch on 1er February. At home, the junta faces massive daily demonstrations and a civil disobedience movement that affects all components of Burmese society.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Wednesday expressed concern over the safety and well-being of Burmese citizens, saying that a “Inclusive democratic transition process” was necessary. “We call on all parties to show restraint and not to resort to violence, to avoid victims and bloodshed”, she told reporters in Jakarta.

Mme Marsudi had spoken about the Burma crisis over the past two weeks during visits to Brunei and Singapore and phone calls with other Southeast Asian counterparts. The minister had hoped to travel to Naypyidaw, the administrative capital of Burma, after her visit to Bangkok, to directly convey the position of Indonesia and other countries, but she explained that this visit had to be postponed.

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“Stop negotiating with them”

Earlier on Wednesday, hundreds of protesters gathered for the second day in a row outside the Indonesian embassy in central Myanmar, Myanmar’s largest city. Unhappy that this neighboring country is talking with the junta – officially named the State Administrative Council – they carried signs saying “Stop negotiating with them” and “Indonesia, do not support the dictator”.

“The Administrative Council of the Military State is not our legitimate government”Seinn Lae Maung, a protester with the Burmese flag painted on her face, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “Thank you for respecting our votes and hearing our voices. “” Doing nothing is not an option “, later retorted Mme Marsudi in reaction to criticism.

Bloody repression

Over the past three weeks, the generals have continued to step up the use of force to weaken the pro-democracy mobilization in Burma, where thousands of people have challenged them by taking to the streets daily. They used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets against the demonstrators. Isolated shots with live ammunition also took place.

The death toll since the coup climbed to five on Wednesday, after the death of a 20-year-old man who was arrested with a leg injury after a protest last weekend in Mandalay, the second largest city in the country. His mother “Ran to me, crying and hugging me, saying his son was dead”, reported Khin Maung Tint of the local rescue organization Mandalay Rescue.

Three other people were killed during protests and a man who was patrolling to avoid mass arrests in his neighborhood in Yangon was shot dead. The family and friends of the man, Tin Htut Hein, 30, paid their last respects to him on Wednesday during his funeral. In the audience, some wore T-shirts with their faces printed as a sign of mourning, while others placed roses on a sign stating “The dictatorship must fail”.

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Protests continued across the country on Wednesday, from Yangon – where ethnic minority groups dressed in their traditional outfits marched with their flags – to Mandalay, where protesters marched on elephant backs. The pachyderms wore an inscription on their rump saying “Down with the military dictatorship” in Burmese.

Since his arrest in the early hours of the 1er February, Aung San Suu Kyi was not seen in public. 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, 75, held incommunicado since her arrest, indicted on non-political charges, accused of importing “Illegally” walkie-talkies and violating a law on dealing with natural disasters. A hearing is scheduled for 1er March.

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The World with AFP

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