US bemoans lack of progress in Myanmar following coup
Bangkok, Jul 10 (EFE).- US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Sunday lamented the lack of progress in restoring democracy in Myanmar after the military coup d’état in the southeast Asian nation on Feb. 1, 2021.
The Burmese military ousted the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, imprisoned its iconic leader Aung San Suu Kyi and launched a bloody crackdown against her supporters in the wake of the coup.
“I think it’s unfortunately safe to say that we’ve seen no positive movement,” Mr. Blinken told reporters in Bangkok, where he arrived Saturday night for a brief visit before continuing his journey to Japan.
“On the contrary, we continue to see the repression of the Burmese people who continue to see violence perpetrated by the regime,” he added.
The US secretary of state discussed the situation in Myanmar on Sunday morning with Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Blinken’s counterpart, Don Pramudwinai, as well as meeting with a group of young leaders of the Myanmar diaspora.
Blinken insisted that the war in Ukraine had not distracted the US from the crisis in Myanmar, and called on regional powers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) as well as China to do more in addressing the situation, saying “regional support for the regime’s adherence to the five-point plan developed by Asean” had not materialized.
“All countries have to continue to speak clearly about what the regime is doing in its ongoing repression and brutality,” he said, adding that the international community has an “obligation” to hold the regime accountable.
Blinken said he believed it was in Beijing’s interest that Myanmar return to the democratic path it was on before the military overthrew the government.
In a recent visit to Myanmar, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi unusually urged the military junta to engage in talks with the pro-democracy movement.
Thailand, for its part, has adopted a softer stance on its neighbor, preferring to negotiate with the military junta to find solutions to the political, economic and social crisis triggered by the coup.
The administration led by Prayut, the general who spearheaded the 2014 coup in Thailand and became prime minister in 2019, maintains ties with the Myanmar army and has appointed a special rapporteur to strengthen dialogue with the junta.
The coup, led by General Min Aung Hlaing, overthrew the democratic government headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who is being held in a prison in Naypyidaw, and imposed a regime of violent repression of dissent that has exacerbated simmering armed conflicts in the country.
At least 2,074 people have died as a result of brutal repression by security forces, according to data collected by the Myanmar non-profit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
Min Aung Hlaing has violated the promise he made in April 2021 to end violence against civilians and is seeking to hold general elections by mid-2023, viewed by analysts as a way to entrench his power.
During his visit to Thailand, Blinken and the Thai foreign minister also signed two documents to strengthen the historic relations, which this year marks 190 years, between the two countries. EFE