ASEAN Chair Urges Myanmar Regime Leader to Let Envoy Meet Suu Kyi

By The Irrawaddy 3 May 2022

The chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Monday urged the Myanmar regime leader to let the bloc’s envoy meet with the country’s detained democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint to “create a conducive environment to start an inclusive political dialogue” in the country, which has been badly affected by a military coup last year.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who currently holds ASEAN’s rotating chair, and regime leader Min Aung Hlaing held a teleconference on Monday to discuss the implementation of the regional grouping’s five-point peace plan for Myanmar.

“[Hun Sen] re-emphasized the importance of the ability of the special envoy to meet all parties concerned in Myanmar, including Aung San Suu Kyi and former President Win Myint, to create a conducive environment in which to start an inclusive political dialogue,” Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a press release.

“In response, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing pledged to facilitate meetings with other parties concerned,” the ministry said, meaning the ASEAN Special Envoy on Myanmar will not have access to either during his forthcoming second visit to country at the end of this month.

Myanmar has been in social and political turmoil since the military seized power from the country’s democratically elected government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. ASEAN adopted a five-point peace plan for Myanmar in April 2021 urging the junta to immediately end the violence in the country and to hold an inclusive political dialogue, among other steps. The regime, which has killed more than 1,700 civilians so far, has failed to implement the plan.

Hun Sen’s push for Min Aung Hlaing to let the bloc’s envoy meet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint—both of whom have been detained since the coup and are on trial—comes after ASEAN’s peace plan for the country was condemned for failing to fulfill its pledges or take meaningful steps toward pressing the regime to end its human rights violations.

During Monday’s meeting, Hun Sen reminded Min Aung Hlaing of the importance of avoiding excessive use of force in maintaining law and order. The regime has been using air and artillery strikes, raids and the burning of villages in the country’s anti-regime stronghold areas in Myanmar’s northwest and southeast, causing tens of thousands of civilian displacements.

In March, ASEAN’s Special Envoy for Myanmar, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, visited the country and met with Min Aung Hlaing and some of his cabinet members, among others, but not with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

During the visit, the junta arranged for him to meet with a lawmaker from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in an attempt to deceive the international community that it was complying with its request that the junta allow envoys to meet with all political stakeholders in Myanmar. The junta said a meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was impossible as the country’s laws prohibit meetings with anyone on trial. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has faced a series of charges filed by the regime. However, the lawmaker declined the meeting, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon his return from Myanmar, Prak Sokhonn said the country’s problems were complicated and would take a long time to solve, as the “stakeholders were not ready to cooperate and still insist on fighting and eliminating one another.”

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