Conflicts & War

Asean heads to meet in Jakarta amid crisis in Myanmar

Bangkok, Apr 20. (EFE).- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has convened a summit Saturday amid a political crisis in Myanmar after the Feb.1 coup.

The bloc has also invited Myanmar’s military ruler Min Aung Hlaing for the summit in Jakarta, which houses the Asean headquarters.

The summit will have limited attendance, and strict security measures will be in place due to the pandemic, the Asean secretariat said.

The bloc consists of Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.

It is not known if Asean has invited members of the shadow government formed by ousted lawmakers after a military coup in Myanmar.

“Asean cannot adequately discuss the situation in Myanmar without hearing from and speaking to the national unity government,” Charles Santiago, president of the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

“If Asean’s purpose is to strengthen democracy, as stated by its charter, they must give them a seat at the table.”

The bloc follows the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of the member countries.

However, it is divided in the face of the Myanmar crisis as Indonesia and Singapore have strongly condemned the use of violence against anti-coup demonstrators while other countries like Thailand are closer to the military junta.

Nearly 750 people have lost their lives since the coup in brutal military repression against pro-democracy demonstrations.

The security forces have arrested more than 3,260 activists, including the ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and his predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, have also urged the Asean governments to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

The two were speaking in a virtual meeting of the UN Security Council Monday.

“Asean’s role is more crucial than ever as the region faces an urgent crisis in Myanmar,” Guterres said.

“I have repeatedly called on the international community to work, collectively and through bilateral channels, to help bring an end to the violence and the repression by the military.”

He said the UN cooperation with Asean had become vital as the situation required a robust international response grounded in a unified regional effort.

“I urge regional actors to leverage their influence to prevent further deterioration and, ultimately, find a peaceful way out of this catastrophe,” Guterres said.

Ban Ki-moon noted that the Myanmar junta had rejected his proposal to mediate between the parties.

He condemned the lethal use of force and the arrest of Suu Kyi and other civilian political leaders.

“I urge Asean leaders to take immediate and concerted action,” the former UN chief said.

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