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ASEAN to hold foreign ministers meeting on Myanmar on Tuesday

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    Kyodo News

Tokyo, Japan   /   Fri, February 26, 2021   /   08:30 pm
ASEAN to hold foreign ministers meeting on Myanmar on Tuesday Virtual summit: Leaders of ASEAN and its strategic partners are seen on a screen as they attend the fourth Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit as part of the 37th ASEAN Summit held online from Hanoi on Nov. 15. (Reuters/Kham)

ASEAN members are arranging to hold a special foreign ministers meeting on Tuesday to discuss the political crisis in Myanmar in the wake of the coup there early this month, ASEAN diplomatic sources said Friday.

It would be the first such meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations since the member country's military ousted the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1.

Most ASEAN countries have expressed readiness to attend the meeting, with Myanmar's military-appointed Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin also asked to attend, the sources said.

Meanwhile, AFP reported riot police dispersed hundreds of anti-coup protesters who have rallied daily in the country's largest city against a junta that toppled civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The nation has seen an outpouring of anger and defiance from hundreds of thousands of protesters who have gathered to call for Suu Kyi's release and a return to democracy.

Read also: Clashes in Yangon as Myanmar nears a month of military rule

In some cities, security forces have steadily increased their use of force, but in commercial hub Yangon, authorities have exercised restraint, largely relying on barricades and troop presence to prevent gatherings around city landmarks and embassies.

Protesters have bypassed restrictions by moving fluidly through the city, organizing around central junctions Hledan and Myaynigone.

But on Friday riot police advanced on the demonstrators -- mostly sitting and chanting pro-democracy slogans -- and warned them to disperse.

Six protesters and a Japanese journalist were arrested after officers cleared a busy traffic artery.

Read also: ‘To do nothing is not an option’: Indonesian foreign minister defends meeting junta

Yuki Kitazumi, a freelance reporter, "was beaten on the head by baton but he was wearing a helmet", his assistant Linn Nyan Htun said on Facebook.

A police officer denied that Kitazumi was beaten, and later said he had been released.

On a smaller residential street off Myaynigone, some demonstrators assembled makeshift barricades -- using barbed wire and stacked tables -- to halt police.