Myanmar junta chief lands in Jakarta to attend ASEAN summit

Jakarta, Apr 24 (EFE).- The head of Myanmar’s military junta, General Min Aung Hlaing, arrived in Jakarta on Saturday to participate in a special summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations about the crisis that has engulfed his country since he led a coup on Feb. 1.

The Indonesian president’s office confirmed that the general’s plane landed at the Jakarta airport on Saturday morning, marking his first travel abroad since the military uprising that helped him seize power.

Hlaing’s presence at the summit was preceded by criticism by those who consider the invitation as a legitimization of the military junta.

However, the general has already participated in virtual meetings of the bloc, such as the foreign ministers’ meeting in March and a subsequent meeting of the defense ministers.

Hlaing’s first overseas trip since he seized control of Myanmar led to nonprofit Amnesty International on Friday urging Indonesia and other ASEAN members to investigate him for crimes against humanity.

“As a state party to the UN Convention Against Torture, Indonesia has a legal obligation to prosecute or extradite a suspected perpetrator on its territory,” AI said in a statement.

The group also sent an open letter to representatives of ASEAN member states who are set to meet in the Indonesian capital on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the self-declared National Unity Government of Myanmar, formed a week ago by a group of lawmakers elected in the elections preceding the coup, urged Interpol to arrest Hlaing, taking advantage of his visit to another country.

However, the request does not have legal validity due to not being pursued by an internationally recognized government, as Interpol can only issue arrest warrants at the request of the state of origin of the alleged criminal, or of the country where he or she may have committed the crime.

The different postures and involvement among the 10 members of ASEAN could be one of the biggest challenges to resolve during Saturday’s meeting, which will be skipped by the prime minister of Thailand and the presidents of the Philippines and Laos.

Countries such as Indonesia – the main driving force behind the event – Singapore and Malaysia have strongly condemned the brutal repression carried out by the Myanmar security forces against civilian demonstrations protesting the junta, with at least 745 people being killed since the coup.

While another faction with Thailand – represented at the summit by its foreign minister – Cambodia and Laos have appeared more sympathetic to the junta and stressed that the crisis was an internal problem of Myanmar. EFE


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