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Myanmar summit a test for ASEAN's credibility: Thailand

Agence France-Presse
Myanmar summit a test for ASEAN's credibility: Thailand
A gardener trims plants in the courtyard of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretariat building in Jakarta on April 20, 2021, ahead of the ASEAN Summit on April 24.
AFP / Bay Ismoyo

YANGON, Myanmar — A weekend summit on the Myanmar coup crisis will be a test for ASEAN's credibility and unity, a senior Thai official said Thursday, amid an escalating death toll and violence across its western border.

Security forces in Myanmar have killed at least 739 people since a February 1 military coup ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, according to a local monitoring group.

The Myanmar military has stepped up the use of lethal force as it seeks to quell mass protests against the junta, with an estimated 250,000 people now displaced, according to UN envoy Tom Andrews.

Leaders and foreign ministers from the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are set to hold talks on the mounting Myanmar crisis in Jakarta on Saturday.

Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing will travel to Indonesia for the summit, in his first overseas trip since the putsch, Nikkei Asia reported.

His involvement has angered activists, human rights groups and a shadow government of ousted Myanmar lawmakers, who on Thursday called on Interpol to arrest him.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha discussed the summit in a phone call on Thursday morning.

During the conversation, Prayut acknowledged that the situation in Myanmar is a challenging issue for peace and stability in the region, according to a press statement.

But Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat confirmed Prayut will send Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai in his place because he must stay home to deal with the coronavirus situation gripping Thailand.  

Hunger and desperation

ASEAN countries are aware of international expectations to deliver concrete outcomes from the talks, Tanee said.

"It is now up to ASEAN family members including Myanmar to safeguard ASEAN's unity and credibility," Tanee told an online press conference on Thursday.

There have been some calls for Myanmar to be expelled from the bloc, which generally has a hands-off approach when it comes to the internal affairs of its members.

China, which is not a member of ASEAN but is a key ally of Myanmar's military, said the meeting should promote "political reconciliation" in the country.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China hoped the summit would aid a "soft landing" to end the crisis, in remarks reported by state news agency Xinhua.

United Nations special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, is expected to leave Bangkok for Jakarta for meetings on the sidelines of the gathering.

International condemnation of the coup and violence continues to build but the junta has so far largely weathered the backlash.

The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) warned Thursday that "hunger and desperation" were rising sharply across Myanmar, due to pre-existing poverty, Covid-19 and the political chaos.

"More and more poor people have lost their jobs and are unable to afford food," said WFP Myanmar country director Stephen Anderson. "A concerted response is required now to alleviate immediate suffering, and to prevent an alarming deterioration in food security."

The WFP said its new food assistance operation would target up to two million vulnerable people, but it estimates that up to 3.4 million more will be hungry within six months.

ASEAN

ASEAN SUMMIT

MYANMAR

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 27, 2023 - 3:32pm

Follow this thread for updates on the situation in Myanmar, where a coup may be happening after de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials have reportedly been detained by the military.

Photo: Military officers wearing facemasks who serve as members of Myanmar's parliament leave after a session at the Assembly of the Union (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw) in Naypyidaw on March 10, 2020. AFP/Ye Aung Thu

January 27, 2023 - 3:32pm

Myanmar's junta give political parties two months to re-register under a strict new electoral law written by the military, the latest sign it is planning fresh polls this year.

The previous elections in November 2020 were won resoundingly by civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy but the military staged its coup after making unsubstantiated allegations of massive voter fraud.

The junta-imposed state of emergency is due to expire at the end of January, after which the constitution states authorities must set in motion plans to hold fresh elections -- although no date has yet been given. — AFP

January 24, 2023 - 7:14pm

Fighting has flared in recent days between Myanmar junta forces and rebels opposed to their rule, officials and locals said Tuesday, with reports that large numbers of civilians have fled the violence.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government was toppled in an army coup almost two years ago.

Long-established ethnic rebel groups, as well as dozens of "People's Defence Forces" (PDF), have emerged in opposition and clash frequently with the military.

The last few days have seen intense clashes in southeast Karen state, around Kyonedoe and the border town of Payathonzu.

"There were drone attacks by local PDFs at a military command near Kyonedoe town a few days ago," a military source told AFP. -- AFP

January 24, 2023 - 2:53pm

A group of people from Myanmar have filed a criminal complaint in Germany accusing their country's military of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, a rights organisation said Tuesday.

The case was lodged with Germany's Federal Public Prosecutor General under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows the prosecution of certain grave crimes regardless of where they took place, and has been used to try Syrians over atrocities committed during the civil war.

The 16 complainants live in several countries, including Myanmar, and are drawn from a cross-section of the country's numerous ethnic groups -- including Rohingya, the dominant Burman and minority Chin communities.

Their accounts date from 2017, when the country was run by a civilian government, to 2021, after the coup that brought the current junta to power.

"They (the army) don't think of us as people and treat us like animals", said Thi Da, a 35-year-old ethnic Chin.  -- AFP

January 24, 2023 - 1:53pm

A group of people from Myanmar have filed a criminal complaint in Germany accusing their country's military of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, a rights organisation says.

The case was lodged with Germany's Federal Public Prosecutor General under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows the prosecution of certain grave crimes regardless of where they took place, and has been used to try Syrians over atrocities committed during the civil war.

The 16 complainants live in several countries, including Myanmar, and are drawn from a cross-section of the country's numerous ethnic groups -- including Rohingya, the dominant Burman and minority Chin communities.

Their accounts date from 2017, when the country was run by a civilian government, to 2021, after the coup that brought the current junta to power. — AFP

January 7, 2023 - 6:24pm

A prisoner was killed and more than 60 wounded after a riot broke out at a Myanmar prison west of Yangon, the junta said on Saturday.

Myanmar has been in chaos since Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government was toppled in a military coup in February 2021, ending the southeast Asian nation's brief period of democracy.

The riot at the prison in Pathein started after guards confiscated a mobile phone from an inmate on Thursday night and took disciplinary action, the junta said in a statement.

About 70 prisoners escaped from their cells and damaged property on Friday morning. — AFP

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