Amid the pandemic and continued clashes in Myanmar, where according to a local monitoring group, an estimated 847 people have already been killed by security forces since the military takeover on 01 February, ASEAN envoys met with junta leader Myanmar armed forces chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing with a list of undisclosed names the regional bloc nominates as Myanmar’s special envoy.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations had met with the junta leader in Jakarta in April. Yet observers question how the regional bloc can influence events in the country when it is not known for its diplomatic clout.
JAKARTA — ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi and Erywan Pehin Yusof, second foreign minister of Brunei, which holds the bloc’s rotating presidency, visited Myanmar on Thursday and Friday to discuss the crisis in the country apart from submitting the regional bloc’s nominees.
The proposal for a special envoy would serve as a mediator in future dialogues between the junta and pro-democracy forces. It was one of the five items agreed upon at an extraordinary ASEAN summit held in Indonesia in late April. An immediate suspension of violence and humanitarian assistance from ASEAN were also part of the items discussed previously.
The junta failed to dispatch a special envoy in mid-May, had little willingness to accept a delegate, and said it will “give careful consideration to constructive suggestions” made by ASEAN leaders only “when the situation returns to stability in the country,” making arrangements for dispatch of the special envoy potentially tricky.
Erywan Pehin Yusof, who serves as the chair of the ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting, called on Min Aung Hlaing and other Myanmar officials to release all political prisoners, which include women, children and foreigners.
The general, however, in a television interview later said Myanmar is not yet ready to adopt the plan.
A shadow government composed of former lawmakers called on visiting leaders to also meet with its representatives. It is not clear whether the ASEAN envoys plan to meet with them, which the junta has designated as ‘terrorists.’
Since the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government, she was kept in detention, same as the fates of other prominent politicians, by the junta while spreading terror, using brute force against anti-coup protesters.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group that keeps track of deaths and arrests in Myanmar, reports 847 people killed as of Saturday since the coup started in February.
Featured image: This handout photo from the Myanmar News Agency (MNA) shows Myanmar armed forces chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (right) meeting with Brunei’s Second Minister of Foreign Affairs Erywan Yusof (left) in Naypyidaw. Taken and released on 04 June 2021