The Latest: Japan expresses ‘serious concern’ about Myanmar

FILE – In this Nov. 8, 2020, file photo, Myanmar military Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing leaves a polling station after voting in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. A military coup was taking place in Myanmar early Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was detained under house arrest, reports said, as communications were cut to the capital. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (AP) — The Latest on the military takeover in Myanmar (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi expressed “serious concern” about developments in Myanmar and called for the release of leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“We have serious concerns about Myanmar’s declaration of a state of emergency, a development that is harming the democratization process,” Motegi said in a statement Monday. “We demand the release of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials.”

“Japan has strongly supported Myanmar’s democratization process and opposes moves that go against it,” Motegi said. “We strongly urge the military again to restore a democratic political system as soon as possible.”

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5:39 p.m.

The chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations called for “a return to normalcy” in Myanmar, a member of the 10-nation bloc.

“We recall the purposes and the principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, including, the adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Brunei, the group’s current chairman, said in a statement.

“We reiterate that the political stability in ASEAN Member States is essential to achieving a peaceful, stable and prosperous ASEAN Community. We encourage the pursuance of dialogue, reconciliation and the return to normalcy in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar.”

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5 p.m.

Top officials in the European Union condemned the military’s actions in Myanmar and the detentions of top civilian leaders as a coup, and called for the restoration of the government.

In a statement Monday, EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, called for the immediate release of President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel joined the criticism after Myanmar military television said the military was taking control of the country for one year.

The action came on the day that Myanmar’s Parliament was to convene with new members sworn in following November elections. Von der Leyen and Michel said the results of the elections should be respected, while European Parliament President David Sassoli said Europeans are united in the “condemnation of the coup” and belief that democracy should be restored.

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4:45 p.m.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has condemned the coup and arrests of government officials in Myanmar.

“We call for the immediate release of all those detained and the restoration of the democratic process,” Sánchez said Monday in a tweet. “The Constitution and the electoral results must be respected.”

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4:25 p.m.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas condemned the military’s seizure of power and the arrests of government leaders, calling on it to release Aung San Suu Kyi and others immediately.

“The military’s actions are jeopardizing all the progress made on the path to democratic change in Myanmar,” Maas said.

He added that Germany and its European Union partners reaffirm their support for the further democratization of Myanmar and the efforts of the civilian government to “promote peace, human rights and economic development,” and said that he hopes the military leadership would “respect the democratic will of its people and recognize the result of the elections.”

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4:20 p.m.

The Czech Republic has condemned military’s actions in Myanmar.

“We support the country’s legitimate leadership and call for their immediate release,” the Foreign Ministry said.

It said the results of parliamentary elections in November must be respected.

“We have always supported transition to democracy and efforts to promote lasting peace, freedom, human rights and prosperity for all the people of Myanmar,” the Czech ministry tweeted on Monday.

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4:17 p.m.

Italy strongly condemned the military takeover in Myanmar and demanded that Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders be released.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said: “The will of the population clearly emerged in the last elections and must be respected. We are concerned about this abrupt interruption of the democratic transition process and we ask that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms be guaranteed.”

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4 p.m.

Supporters of Myanmar’s military and the political party it backs held small rallies Monday to celebrate the ousting of the government of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party.

Pickup trucks carrying about half a dozen people each cruised in small swarms through the main streets of Yangon, the country’s biggest city. Some vehicles had loudspeakers blaring music and most carried the national flag. Some also displayed Buddhist flags.

In several areas, supporters of the military and the Union Solidarity and Development Party held small streetside rallies, with occasional minor violence, according to social media posts that could not immediately be verified.

Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in last November’s elections, humiliating the opposition USDP. The military said it staged its takeover Monday, during which it detained Suu Kyi and other officials, because her government would not address its allegations of widespread voter fraud and other election flaws.

Similar rallies supporting the military were held last week. In imposing a one-year state of emergency on Monday, the military said the government’s denials of wrongdoing sparked popular protests against the state election commission “in many cities.”

It said other parties and individuals were planning their own demonstrations and provocations that could impact the nation’s stability. However, there was little public sign of significant unrest.

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3:40 p.m.

Turkey, which has a history of military takeovers and whose government survived a coup attempt as recently as 2016, strongly condemned the military’s actions in Myanmar and expressed its “deep concerns.”

“Turkey is opposed to all kinds of coups and military intervention,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It called for the immediate release of all elected leaders, political figures and civilians and for the country’s Parliament to convene as soon as possible.

The statement also said it hopes the “dire development” would not exacerbate the situation of minority Rohingya Muslims.

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3:35 p.m.

Malaysia called for Myanmar to resolve any electoral discrepancies peacefully through legal mechanisms and dialogue.

The Foreign Ministry urged Myanmar’s military and all relevant parties to give priority to upholding the rule of law, and maintain peace and security.

“Malaysia reaffirms the strong support for Myanmar’s democratic transition, peace process and inclusive economic development,” it said in a statement.

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3:30 p.m.

Britain condemned the Myanmar’s military’s actions and called for the release of all those detained.

“The democratic wishes of the people of Myanmar must be respected, and the National Assembly peacefully re-convened,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “I condemn the coup and unlawful imprisonment of civilians, including Aung San Suu Kyi, in Myanmar. The vote of the people must be respected and civilian leaders released.”

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3:10 p.m.

Myanmar’s government agency in charge of air travel says it has stopped all passenger flights in the country.

The U.S. Embassy in Myanmar said on its Facebook page that the road to the international airport in Yangon, the country’s s biggest city, had been closed Monday. On Twitter it said that “reports indicate that all airports in Myanmar are closed.”

The U.S. Embassy also issued a “security alert” saying it was aware of the detention of Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi as well as the shutdown of some Internet service, including in Yangon.

“There is potential for civil and political unrest in Burma, and we will continue to monitor the situation,” it said, using Myanmar’s former name.

The U.S. State Department earlier issued a statement say it was “alarmed” by Monday’s military takeover.

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2:25 p.m.

China said it was still gathering information about Monday’s developments in Myanmar.

China is one of Myanmar’s most important economic partners and has invested billions of dollars in mines, infrastructure and gas pipelines in the Southeast Asian nation.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily news briefing: “We have noted what happened in Myanmar, and we are learning the further situation now,”

He added: “China is a friendly neighbor of Myanmar. We hope that all parties in Myanmar will properly handle their differences under the constitutional and legal framework and maintain political and social stability.”

While China’s ruling Communist Party tends to favor fellow authoritarian regimes, it has had a fractious history with Myanmar’s military, sometimes related to its campaigns against ethnic Chinese minority groups and the drug trade along their long, mountainous border.

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1:40 p.m.

Myanmar’s military has announced it will hold a new election at the end of a one-year state of emergency it declared Monday when it seized control of the country and reportedly detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The announcement on military-controlled Myawaddy TV came after an earlier declaration that because national stability was in jeopardy, all government functions would be transferred to military chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing under a provision in the 2008 constitution that was issued under military rule.

The announcement said once the election is held, the military would hand power to the winner.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a landslide victory in last November’s general election, humiliating the military-backed opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party.

The military said it acted because Suu Kyi’s government failed to address its allegations of widespread voter fraud and other election-related issues.

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11:15 a.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has strongly condemned the detention of Myanmar’s civilian leaders as the military announced it was taking control of the country for one year.

He expressed “grave concern” about the declaration that all legislative, executive and judicial powers have been transferred to the military. “These developments represent a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar,” said a statement from the U.N. chief’s spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

Guterres said the elections last November provided a strong mandate for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy to govern. The announcement that the military was taking control came on the first day Myanmar’s Parliament was to convene following the November elections.

The military has argued those elections were tainted by fraud, but the elections commission last week rejected those claims as lacking evidence.

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11:10 a.m.

Human rights groups are calling for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders in Myanmar.

A military takeover in the country was announced Monday morning on the day Myanmar’s Parliament was to convene with new members sworn in following November elections. The military has claimed the election was tainted by fraud but an election board rejected those claims as lacking evidence.

Human Rights Watch expressed concern about the safety of the figures being detained.

“The military’s actions show utter disdain for the democratic elections held in November and the right of Myanmar’s people to choose their own government,” said Phil Robertson, HRW’s deputy Asia director.

Amnesty International noted that violence and extrajudicial killings had marked past coups and urged Myanmar’s armed forces to exercise restraint.

“The concurrent arrests of prominent political activists and human rights defenders sends a chilling message that the military authorities will not tolerate any dissent,” Amnesty International said.

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11 a.m.

Leaders in the Asia-Pacific region are expressing concern about the military’s actions in Myanmar and detentions of top civilian leaders.

Myanmar military television said Monday morning the military was taking control of the country for one year and Suu Kyi and others had been detained. The actions came on the day Myanmar’s Parliament was to convene with new members sworn in following November elections.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison reiterated his country’s opposition to any attempt to alter the election results and urged all parties to adhere to democratic norms.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said the government had issued a safety advisory to Japanese citizens to be careful in the event of possible clashes.

“Japan believes it is important to resolve the problem peacefully through dialogue between the related parties based on democratic process,” Kato said.

A statement released by Singapore’s foreign ministry said it hoped all parties in Myanmar would work toward a positive and peaceful outcome. “We hope that the situation will return to normal as soon as possible.”

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10:15 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expressing alarm about Myanmar’s military detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders.

Myanmar military television said Monday morning the military was taking control of the country for one year and Suu Kyi and others had been detained. The actions came on the day Myanmar’s Parliament was to convene with new members sworn in following November elections.

“We call on Burmese military leaders to release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections on November 8,” Blinken said in a statement from Washington. “The United States stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development. The military must reverse these actions immediately.”

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9 a.m.

Myanmar military television says the military has taken control of the country for one year.

An announcer on military-owned Myawaddy TV made the announcement Monday morning. The announcement follows days of concern about the threat of a military coup and comes as the country’s new Parliament session was to begin.

The Irrawaddy, an established online news service, reported that State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi Suu Kyi, the nation’s top leader, and the country’s president, Win Myint, were both detained before dawn Monday. The news service cited Myo Nyunt, a spokesman for Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy party.

Its report said that the party’s Central Executive Committee members, lawmakers and regional Cabinet members had also been taken into custody.

The U.S., Australia and others have expressed concern about the actions.

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8:40 a.m.

The U.S. and Australia have expressed concerned about a reported coup in Myanmar and urged its military to respect the rule of law.

“The United States is alarmed by reports that the Burmese military has taken steps to undermine the country’s democratic transition, including the arrest of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian officials in Burma,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement from Washington. Burma is the former name of Myanmar.

She said President Joe Biden had been briefed on the reported developments.

“The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed,” the statement said.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne called for the release of Suu Kyi and others detained. “We strongly support the peaceful reconvening of the National Assembly, consistent with the results of the November 2020 general election,” she said.

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7:15 a.m.

Reports says a military coup has taken place in Myanmar and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained under house arrest.

Online news portal Myanmar Now cited unidentified sources about the arrest of Suu Kyi and her party’s chairperson early Monday and did not have further details.

All communications to Naypyitaw appeared to have been cut, and Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party could not be reached.

Myanmar lawmakers were to gather Monday for the first session of Parliament since last year’s election, with tension lingering over recent comments by the military that were widely seen as threatening a coup.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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