Southeast Asian foreign ministers will discuss the possibility of not allowing Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing to attend the upcoming regional summit, at a meeting on Friday (15/10).
Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said he did not want Min Aung Hlaing to attend the summit if he did not honor his commitment to the peace plan. Saifuddin added that the foreign ministers of the United Southeast Asian Nations would hold a virtual meeting on Friday night to assess the junta’s commitment to the peace process.
The previously unscheduled virtual meeting on Friday (15/10) will be hosted by the current ASEAN chair, Brunei.
Several ASEAN members have strongly criticized the Myanmar military government’s inaction in realizing the five-point plan it agreed with the bloc last April, which focuses on dialogue among all parties, humanitarian access and an end to hostilities.
Erywan Yusof, ASEAN’s special envoy to Myanmar, last week confirmed several members of the bloc had had in-depth discussions not to invite the coup leader to the virtual summit from October 26 to 28. He said the junta’s lack of commitment to the process of restoring peace in Myanmar was tantamount to setbacks.
Myanmar has a long history of military dictatorship and is widely criticized by the international community for systematic human rights violations. The country has become ASEAN’s most difficult problem since the group was formed in 1967 as it tests the boundaries of its unity and policy of non-intervention.
The 10-nation bloc has faced intense international pressure to take decisive action that could force Myanmar to release a number of political figures, including former leader Suu Kyi, who was ousted in a February 1 military takeover, and to put the country back on the path of democracy. Violence in Myanmar has reportedly killed more than 1,100 civilians since generals toppled Suu Kyi’s government.
Allowing Myanmar’s Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to attend the upcoming ASEAN Summit can be seen as an acknowledgment of the military takeover that abruptly halted one of Asia’s most phenomenal democratic transitions in modern history after decades of military rule.
Among the world leaders who will attend the summit will be US President Joe Biden, who denounced the deterioration of democracy in Myanmar and approved the imposition of sanctions on Myanmar’s generals, their family members and associates.
ASEAN foreign ministers on Friday will consider a number of proposals, including allowing Min Aung Hlaing to attend the meeting without allowing him to speak, or barring him from attending but allowing a low-level civilian representative to attend in his stead, a Southeast Asian diplomat told the Associated Press news agency. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The Myanmar delegation attended the UN General Assembly last month in New York but was not given the opportunity to speak, an arrangement that ASEAN could possibly adopt, the diplomat said. (ab/uh)