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Asean urged not to invite Myanmar military ruler to its summit

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 14 October, 2021 12:00 AM
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Asean urged not to invite Myanmar military ruler to its summit

More than 50 nonprofits, civil society and women organisations on Wednesday asked the leaders of ASEAN countries not to invite the Myanmar military ruler to the upcoming annual summit of the Southeast Asian bloc on October 25-28.

In an open letter to the heads of member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said the credibility of the bloc “depends on its ability to act decisively and bring an end to the Myanmar military junta’s relentless violence against the people of Myanmar”.

As many as 52 Myanmar and regional organisations have signed the letter. The Prime Ministers and Presidents of the Asean nations, including Myanmar, plan to meet virtually from October 26 for their annual meeting. Brunei is hosting the summit.

The Daily Sun obtained a copy of the open letter issued on October 13.

It is time for the Asean to act decisively. This starts by denying the Myanmar junta the legitimacy it craves, and which has been rejected constantly by the people of Myanmar, the signatories said in the letter.

The letter said the junta refused to cooperate with regional and international neighbours and failed to stand by its commitments.

The letter underlined an alleged inability of the military rulers to deal with the “deepening social and economic disaster, including the dereliction of public health services, amid the global pandemic.

The NGOs argue that the military, which seized power in a coup on February 1, “disregard the five-point consensus agreed at an Asean meeting” and continue to refuse to cooperate with the bloc for its implementation.

The 10-member bloc approved the five-point consensus in a meeting between Asean leaders and the head of the military junta, General Min Aung Hlaing, on April 24 this year.

They agreed on a consensus that included the “immediate cessation of violence,” constructive dialog among all parties, the appointment of an Asean special envoy on Myanmar, humanitarian assistance to be delivered to the country, and for the Special Envoy and delegation to visit Myanmar to “meet with all parties concerned.”

A meeting between the Asean special envoy, Erywan Yusof, appointed in August, and representatives of eight political parties, was canceled at the last minute Tuesday in what would have been his first visit to Myanmar.

Myanmar now reported that Yusof delayed the trip because the military junta rejected his request to meet with some stakeholders without specifying names.

The military rulers had earlier decided not to allow the envoy to meet the jailed civilian leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

Zaw Min Tun, the spokesman for the military regime, defended the decision “in accord with standard procedures”, saying cases against Suu Kyi were subjudice as she was under trial for various charges.

“I’ve never heard of any governments allowing foreign delegates to meet with a person under trial or a person or representatives of illegal organizations, except in very special circumstances,” Zaw told Radio Free Asia in an interview last week.

The letter alleges that the Myanmar junta continues to harass, arrest, and kill anti-coup civilian protesters.

At least 1,167 people have died in violent repression by police and soldiers since the coup, data from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners showed.

The military has also arrested some 7,220 protesters in the last month of the junta rule.