Conflicts & War

ASEAN mediator urged to exert more pressure on Myanmar army ahead of meet

Bangkok, Mar 19 (EFE).- The ASEAN Special Envoy for Myanmar, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, faces calls for greater firmness ahead of his visit Sunday to meet the military junta that seized power in February 2021 in a coup and has since brutally repressed dissent.

Sokhonn, who assumed the position of mediator in January, will be in Myanmar until Wednesday, although his work agenda has not been made public.

The visit, the first by someone holding this ASEAN portfolio, aims to create a favorable condition that will lead to the end of the violence, according to a statement by the Cambodian government.

Sokhonn,, unlike his predecessor Erywan Yusof of Brunei, did not set conditions or demands on Myanmar’s military junta for the trip, a decision criticized by the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

Malaysian parliamentarian and APHR chair Charles Santiago on Saturday described it is as a betrayal of the collective decision of ASEAN.

According to Phnom Penh, the agenda of visit will revolve around the five points of consensus agreed to between the ASEAN leaders and the junta, including the immediate cessation of violence against civilians and a constructive dialogue involving all parties in the conflict.

However, the military junta has so far shot down any possibility of meeting with the deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been sentenced to six years in prison and still faces a dozen judicial proceedings, or other representatives of the overthrown civilian government.

ASEAN considers that the Myanmar junta’s steps taken towards the implementation of the agreement as insufficient.

Santiago urged the special envoy for greater firmness and pressure to force the coup leaders to keep their promises.

Myanmar has been facing a deep social, political and humanitarian crisis since the military coup on Feb.1, 2021, which brought an end to democratic rule and imposed a regime of violent repression on dissent.

The army justifies the coup on ground of alleged fraud during the November 2020 general elections, the result of which has been annulled and in which Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide.

The United Nations, in a recent report, has accused the Myanmar army of killing, arresting and torturing the civilian population.

According to the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Myanmar, at least 1,687 people who have died as a result of brutal repression by the authorities in the country. EFE


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