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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

Myanmar summit a test for ASEAN's credibility: Thailand

(Agence France-Presse) - April 23, 2021 - 7:16am

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: May 4, 2021 - 6:17pm

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

May 4, 2021 - 6:17pm

The Myanmar junta has charged a Japanese journalist under a "fake news" law, a report said Tuesday, in the latest blow to press freedom since the military seized power.

Freelance reporter Yuki Kitazumi was arrested last month and charged on Monday — World Press Freedom Day — with spreading fake news, according to a report by Kyodo news agency.

He is one of 50 journalists currently held in Myanmar as part of the junta's crackdown on widespread protests against its February 1 coup.

The country has been in turmoil since civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's government was ousted, with more than 750 people killed as security forces struggle to quash near-daily demonstrations against their rule. — AFP

April 28, 2021 - 8:25pm

Myanmar's military launched air assaults for the second day in a row into rebel-held territory after gunfire was heard from neighboring Thailand, a Thai official said Wednesday, as fighting escalates along the border.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the junta ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a February 1 coup, its power grab angering much of its population.

The anti-junta movement has also garnered some support from some ethnic rebel groups, which controls territory along Myanmar's border regions.

The Karen National Union (KNU), one of the most prominent, has been among the junta's most vocal opponents — blasting the junta for violence against anti-coup protesters. 

Clashes with the military in KNU's territory along the eastern border have increased since Feb 1, with the junta deploying air assaults last month -- the first instance in Karen state in over 20 years. — AFP

April 26, 2021 - 5:28pm

Myanmar's junta again postponed court proceedings against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday her lawyers said, as they fight for permission to visit her 12 weeks after she was detained.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted the Nobel laureate in a February 1 coup, shunting the country back into junta rule after a brief experiment with democracy. 

Large swathes of the population have taken to the streets in protest, with security forces unleashing a brutal campaign to quell the massive uprising. 

Meanwhile Suu Kyi has been under house arrest, with the junta charging her under six cases — including for sedition and having unlicensed walkie-talkies. 

But movement on her case was once again delayed until May 10, her lawyer Min Min Soe said Monday after a hearing. — AFP

April 24, 2021 - 2:01pm

Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing arrives in Jakarta for crisis talks with Southeast Asian leaders, in his first foreign trip since military forces staged a coup and subsequent crackdown that has left more than 700 dead.

An Indonesian government video showed the senior general, dressed in a dark suit, stepping off a Myanmar Airways International plane after it landed in the capital. — AFP

April 22, 2021 - 2:23pm

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 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. — AFP

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