Amnesty calls on Cambodian leader to cancel ‘rogue diplomacy’ trip to Myanmar

Bangkok, Jan 6 (EFE).- Amnesty International on Thursday called on Cambodia’s prime minister to cancel his trip to Myanmar, where he plans to arrive on Friday for the first visit of a head of state to the country since the military’s February coup.

On Wednesday Hun Sen said he would meet with coup leader Min Aung Hlaing to try to secure a ceasefire that would allow the opening of a humanitarian corridor, one of the points of consensus reached in April between the Myanmar junta and the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“If Hun Sen truly wants to help, he should cancel this trip and lead ASEAN to strong action to address the country’s dire human rights situation rather than indulge in empty gestures that will likely result in little more than a self-congratulatory photo op,” Emerlynne Gil, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for research, said in a statement.

Hun Sen, who plans to travel to Naypyidaw on Friday and return on Saturday, although he left open the possibility of extending his visit, stressed that the talks will revolve around the five-point consensus, which also include the cessation of violence against civilians and dialog with all parties to reach a peaceful solution.

Amnesty called on Cambodia, which hosts the rotating presidency of ASEAN this year, to press for compliance with the consensus and “expand it further to protect human rights and ensure accountability for abuses” committed by the military.

“Hun Sen’s rogue diplomacy may do more harm than good by breaking ranks with ASEAN’s response to the Myanmar crisis and sending mixed messages,” Gil said.

The junta’s failure to comply with these commitments led to Myanmar being excluded from regional leaders’ meetings for the first time in ASEAN history.

Cambodia’s gestures have raised eyebrows among opponents and human rights organizations who see them as moves to grant legitimacy to the military junta that on Feb. 1 ended Myanmar’s fledgling democracy.

On Tuesday, nearly 200 international civil society organizations from Myanmar and Cambodia strongly condemned Hun Sen’s alleged “support” for the junta and called for an “urgent coordinated international response to immediately halt the junta’s campaign of terror.”

Eleven months after the coup, the junta still has not garnered support in the country despite the violence used against dissent, which has so far caused 1,437 deaths, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The repression of the military junta against civilians continues and has even worsened in some parts of the country, with recent reports of massacres carried out by the military and air strikes on villages. EFE


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