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Editorial: Int'l pressure needed now to end chaos, tyranny seizing Myanmar

It has been six months since the Myanmar military seized control of the country in a coup d'etat. The junta has ignored international criticism, and continues to oppress its citizens.

    The number of those citizens killed resisting the military takeover recently rose to 940, while nearly 7,000 have been imprisoned. Some are reportedly being tortured. Many prominent figures who have posted messages on social media supportive of anti-coup protesters are now wanted for police questioning.

    Meanwhile, the military has declared null and void the results of last year's general election, a landslide win for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD). The generals say the election will be rerun in August 2023.

    It appears the junta is seeking to transition to democratic government in name only by wiping out the NLD and arranging for pro-military parties to emerge victorious. Political terror makes holding a free and fair election impossible. Any vote under these conditions has no chance of being recognized by the international community.

    The Myanmar military appears to have badly misunderstood shifts in the national will. At first, the junta seems to have thought it could simply suppress anti-coup protests, but even now short demonstrations emerge whenever a hole appears in the military's surveillance net.

    Myanmar's previous military dictatorship ended a decade ago, after nearly 50 years in power. In other words, the Myanmar people have had a 10-year taste of democratization. They have also been able to freely access information both at home and from abroad, and the public has largely turned against any return to military rule.

    Since the coup d'etat, however, the global community has failed to take any effective steps to remedy the situation.

    In the face of opposition from permanent members Russia and China, who both have strong economic and military ties to Myanmar, the United Nations Security Council has not taken any major steps such as arms embargoes against the generals. Economic measures imposed by the Unites States and the countries of Europe have been meager.

    The Japanese government has apparently used back channel contacts with the Myanmar military to press for dialogue with the pro-democracy movement, but no real progress is evident.

    The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) decided in April to dispatch a special envoy to the country, but has yet to do so.

    Ministerial-level talks set to start this week among nations concerned -- including Japan, China, Russia and the U.S. -- should be used to search for a way into solving the Myanmar problem.

    Meanwhile, the coronavirus situation in Myanmar has become grave. The people are facing a humanitarian crisis as their health care system collapses under the weight of quickly spreading infections.

    We cannot forgive any further violence by the Myanmar military. Now is the time for stronger pressure from the international community to put a firm stop to the chaos and tyranny overwhelming the country as quickly as possible.

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