Myanmar's military chief, Senior Gen will attend an ASEAN summit on April 24,

Thailand | Sun, April 18, 2021 | 06:16 pm

Myanmar’s military chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, will attend an ASEAN summit on April 24, according to the Thai foreign ministry. The representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will meet ad hoc to address the situation in Myanmar, where demonstrations against the military’s Feb. 1 coup and violent crackdowns on them are still ongoing. Some ASEAN members have suggested holding a special summit to address the upheaval in Myanmar, with the aim of finding a peaceful solution to the crisis there, where the military has stepped up its crackdown on demonstrators demanding democracy and the release of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

According to a tally by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners based in Thailand and Myanmar, security forces have killed 728 people after the military seized power from Suu Kyi’s elected government. According to some accounts, ASEAN members share a sense of crisis, fearing that the organization’s authority and prestige will be jeopardized unless it takes action to improve Myanmar’s situation. The Myanmar summit is scheduled to take place in Jakarta, but it could be held online or only a portion of ASEAN member countries could attend in person, with others participating via videoconference, according to sources familiar with the situation.

According to the reports, not all of the member countries have agreed whether or not to attend the summit. While it is expected that ASEAN leaders will ask Hlaing to end security forces’ violence against civilians, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, a coalition made up of pro-democracy forces in Myanmar, was against ASEAN inviting the coup leader to the special summit. In a Facebook post on Friday, Sasa, who has managed the group’s overseas media relations, said that ASEAN’s invitation to Hlaing “will bring not only great shame to the summit but will be considered as great insult” to the citizens of Myanmar.

In opposition to military rule, the CRPH announced on Friday that it has established a national unity government led by Suu Kyi and Win Myint, the ousted president. Since March, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has proposed a special summit, which has been approved by some ASEAN members, including Singapore and Malaysia. However, China, which wields significant power in the ASEAN region, has urged the international community to refrain from intervening in Myanmar’s internal affairs. On March 18, the defense chiefs of ASEAN countries met online, and Hlaing attended but remained silent on the coup, according to sources close to the situation.

Representatives from Indonesia and Singapore said Myanmar’s crackdown on protesters violated the ASEAN Charter, which upholds respect for human rights and the rule of law, and offered support for the country’s restoration of stability. According to the sources, Hlaing did not respond. Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are all members of ASEAN.

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