Southeast Asian Foreign Ministers take on Myanmar crisis
Bangkok / Yangon, Myanmar, March 2 (efe-epa).- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held a special foreign ministers meeting Tuesday to discuss the situation in Myanmar after the military coup, amid a spiral of violence by armed forces.
It comes after a weekend of deadly repression by police and soldiers against peaceful demonstrators and after more charges were presented Monday against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The virtual meeting included Wunna Maung Lwin, the foreign minister appointed by the Myanmar military junta.
Police Tuesday again used tear gas and stun grenades against the protesters in the center of Yangon, the country’s largest city.
Sunday marked the bloodiest day of protests held countrywide in response to the Feb. 1 putsch, when a score of protesters died as a result of shots fired by the security forces.
Although ASEAN has not officially announced the informal meeting will focus on Myanmar, Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Monday that “the ministers will listen to the representatives of the Myanmar military authority” after condemning “the use of the lethal force against civilians.”
The Singaporean representative called for “all parties to engage in a discussion and negotiation in good faith to reach a long-term peaceful political solution and national reconciliation,” and this requires the release of Suu Kyi and the other elected politicians.
Singapore, along with Indonesia and Malaysia, have been the ASEAN countries that have been most critical of the coup in Myanmar, although other members such as the Philippines, Cambodia or Thailand have preferred not to level any criticism.
ASEAN – which also includes Laos, Brunei and Vietnam – works within the principle of regional consensus and non-interference.
The Myanmar Army justified the seizure of power on alleged electoral fraud in November’s elections, where international observers did not detect any rigging and saw the National League for Democracy, led by Suu Kyi, win a landslide victory. EFE-EPA