Activists and regional analysts are criticizing ASEAN for inviting the head of the Myanmar military to attend a special summit held next weekend to discuss the turmoil in the country. member of Myanmar after military coup.
Myanmar military head Min Aung Hlaing is among the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) expected to attend the meeting to take place at the regional bloc’s headquarters in Jakarta on. April 24, a spokesman for Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. .
“I can confirm that Brunei [the ASEAN] The Chairperson proposed April 24 to the venue at the Secretariat in Jakarta. Several leaders have confirmed their attendance including Myanmar’s Min Aung Hlaing. Some leaders have yet to confirm, ”spokeswoman Tanee Sangrat told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, via a text message.
Indonesia and Malaysia were the first two ASEAN members to promote the leaders’ summit to discuss the situation in Myanmar. However, during the preparation of the special meeting, officials in the bloc, including the host country Indonesia, were mostly quiet about the summit.
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will attend the meeting, a source close to him confirmed to BenarNews.
However, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-Cha will not attend and the country will likely be represented by top diplomat Don Pramudwinai and deputy prime minister, Tanee said. Prayuth, former Thai military director, “decided to refuse” to attend the ASEAN summit, Bangkok Post Office reported on Monday, citing a government source who was not clear about the decision.
Irine Putri, a lawmaker from the ruling Indonesian Democratic Struggle Party (PDIP), said Min Aung Hlaing should not be welcome in Jakarta.
“The Indonesian government cannot recognize the military as the legitimate government of Myanmar, because it massacred civilians and suppressed the democracy movement,” Irine said in a statement.
More than 700 people, mostly anti-coup demonstrators, have been killed by the Burmese army and security forces since generals overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government on May 1. 2, according to the Association for Supporting Political Prisoners, a Myanmar human rights group based in Thailand.
Irine said ASEAN should invite representatives of the National United Government (NUG), a parallel government launched on Friday and comprised of lawmakers who won seats in the November 2020 election, which the Myanmar army overthrew by force.
“Myanmar is on the brink of a civil war, and we know that NUG and its people will not step back. ASEAN needs to put pressure on the military regime to return power to civilian government, ”she said.
NUG also has representatives from the main ethnic groups of the country, most of which have their own military.
Mr. Scott Marciel, the former US ambassador to Myanmar, said ASEAN needs to make it clear that ASEAN does not recognize the Myanmar member state’s government and must speak to NUG.
“ASEAN’s agreement for Min Aung Hlaing to represent Myanmar at the upcoming summit will increase its stake in the bloc,” Marciel said on Twitter Sunday.
“To avoid major damage to its position, ASEAN needs to consult NUG and step out of the summit with tangible actions to show that they do not accept military policy.”
He pointed out that the murders following the coup of the Myanmar military regime examined key principles in the bloc’s charter, such as the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“This will be an important meeting for Myanmar, but even more important for ASEAN. One of its member states was taken over by an illegitimate force and threatened the stability of the region. A direct challenge to ASEAN’s charter and centrality, ”Marciel tweeted earlier.
Bridget Welsh, a political scientist at the University of Nottingham based in Malaysia, repeated the call of Marciel and Irine.
“It is not necessary to put a killer on the scale,” Welsh told BenarNews.
“ASEAN could also give them guns to kill Myanmar’s people. Some are also doing this, facilitating homicides. NUG should be there instead. “
According to Simon Adams, executive director of the Global Center for Responsibility to Protect, Min Aung Hlaing should stay behind bars.
“General Min Aung Hlaing was responsible for the crimes against humanity and was handcuffed. He will be under general jurisdiction if he leaves Myanmar, ”Adams tweeted over the weekend.
“Instead, the Government of National Unification should be invited to attend the ASEAN Summit.”
ASEAN was ‘condemned’ by Myanmar activists
On Monday, 88 Generations of Peace and Open Society, a group named after the 1988 pro-democracy uprising that made Aung San Suu Kyi stand out, condemned ASEAN’s invitation to New army head. The Southeast Asian bloc, more often than not, has overlooked the lack of democracy in Myanmar, the group said.
[T]During Myanmar’s struggle for democracy for the past 30 years, ASEAN has always sided with the military, ”the group said in a statement posted on Twitter and Facebook.
“Therefore, we strongly condemn and condemn ASEAN’s invitation to the authorities and will blame ASEAN for further oppressive acts caused by the repressive regime in the future. encouraged by ASEAN’s acceptance. ”
Meanwhile, hundreds of social media users posted tweets with the hashtag “ASEANrejectSAC”, launched on Sunday, to ensure that ASEAN would eliminate Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief. The hashtag # refers to the military’s official name, the State Administrative Council.
The Milk Tea Alliance, a movement that has hosted pro-democracy protests in Asia, on Monday urged the United Nations and ASEAN to act resolutely to resolve the political and humanitarian crisis in the country. Myanmar and completely withdrew from the military government.
“The cowardly responses from the international community for decades have encouraged the Myanmar military to commit the most severe crimes with impunity,” the coalition said in a statement.
“The pattern needs to change, and it needs to change now.”
For its part, NUG appreciated Min Aung Hlaing’s expected presence at the meeting in Jakarta.
“If ASEAN is looking at actions related to Myanmar’s affairs, I would say that it will not work unless it is negotiated with NUG, is supported by the people and has full legitimacy,” he said. Diplomat NUG Moe Zaw Oo told Voice of America. Sunday.
ASEAN countries are still weighing their stance on NUG, says Welsh of Nottingham University.
“This is being discussed as I understand it. ASEAN’s hesitation in recognizing NUG may be because they want things to be simple. Some people in ASEAN also like the Tatmadaw, ”she said, using the official name of the Myanmar armed forces.
Welsh is alluding to how ASEAN has a share of former military leaders and one-party states.
Among the ASEAN members, Thai leader Prayuth became prime minister after the coup he led as commander in chief of the army in 2014. The former general remains in office during the election. in 2019, which the opposition parties see as fraud in the military’s favor.
Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are all one-party states. And Brunei, who holds the chair of ASEAN this year, is a monarch.
“In the decades after Myanmar joined the group in 1997, ASEAN acted as a diplomatic umbrella to shield Myanmar’s former military regimes and its human rights abuses against criticism from the international community, led by the Western countries, ”Naing Khit, a political affairs commentator, last week wrote on The Irawaddy, a regional news website.
ASEAN has been heavily criticized for failing to reach a consensus on how to deal with Myanmar’s government.
At a meeting in March, foreign ministers from member countries were unable to come to a consensus on calling for the release of Suu Kyi and other democratically elected Myanmar leaders detained by the military. since the coup. Instead, ASEAN merely called for the cessation of violence in Myanmar and urged dialogue to end the crisis.
On Monday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said he was disappointed that the split within ASEAN had prevented the regional group from getting a unified response on Myanmar.
“The situation calls for a strong international response based on regional unification efforts. I urge the members of the region to take advantage of their influence to prevent further deterioration and finally find a peaceful escape from this disaster, ”Agence France-Presse quoted the head. United Nations said in a video meeting of Security Council leaders.
‘Important military presence’
Ideally, claimants during the chaos in Myanmar should be present at the summit, analysts said.
“Of course [Aung San] Ms. Suu Kyi’s camp needs to join the meeting, ”Dewi Fortuna Anwar, an international political expert at the Indonesian Academy of Sciences (LIPI), told BenarNews.
“The presence of the military junta at the ASEAN summit will undoubtedly complicate the consensus. However, without the presence of authorities, ASEAN’s efforts to find a solution to the Myanmar conflict will not be successful ”.
Mr. Dewi said that ASEAN should urge the government to end violence and open up access to humanitarian assistance from the international community.
“A comprehensive dialogue process must involve all major sectors of Myanmar’s society in order to restore political stability, security and democracy in Myanmar,” she said.
Teuku Rezasyah, a lecturer in international relations at Padjajaran University in Bandung, said the Myanmar military leader’s presence during the summit was of strategic importance.
“If ASEAN wants to promote an immediate end to violence and open access to humanitarian aid, then it is most appropriate to speak directly to the military. I think this is a very important opportunity, ”Rezasyah told BenarNews.
However, a solution that satisfies both sides is increasingly out of reach, said former Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa.
“Day by day, we see that each side goes further on their own separate paths,” he told a YouTube podcast last week, citing the electoral commission’s decision to announce the outcome of the election. Last year’s election was “void”.
“In these first days [after the coup] we can still imagine a returnable situation where no one would lose face. Today, however, deposits are getting higher and the space for mediation is shrinking, ”he said.
ASEAN needs to innovate, he said, to convince both sides to come to an agreement.
“All parties need to feel they have a stake in the deal,” he said, adding that military leaders involved in the killing of civilians should be legally held accountable.
Reported by BenarNews, an online news service affiliated with RFA.