ASEAN “excludes Myanmar military from summit at the end of this month… Invitation of non-political representatives”

Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Army, who usurped power in a coup in February this year, watches a military parade held on March 27, the Armed Forces Day. AP Yonhap News

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has decided not to attend the summit meeting held via video from the 26th to 28th (local time) of this month (local time). The reason is that they agreed to peacefully resolve the bloodshed sparked by the coup, but did not implement it. This decision is expected to have a significant impact on public opinion in the international community on the issue of recognizing the legitimacy of Myanmar’s military government.

The ASEAN Secretariat announced in a joint statement on the 16th that “after extensive discussion, we have decided to invite non-political representatives from Myanmar to the 38th and 39th summits to be held at the end of this month.” Although it was not specifically stated in the statement, it actually meant that Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing would be excluded from the summit.

ASEAN made this decision after discussing the issue of Myanmar’s representation at the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held the day before. The ASEAN Secretariat also took note of the fact that some member countries received a letter from the National Unity Government (NUG) (established by the Myanmar Democratic Party) requesting an invitation to the summit. There was no consensus on this.” “Considering the reaffirmation of the principle of non-aggression in internal affairs of other member states and the insistence that Myanmar restore internal affairs and normalize it, we have decided to invite non-political representatives to this summit,” he said.

On this day, ASEAN member states are reported to have strongly criticized the Myanmar military government for failing to comply with the five major agreements adopted at the special summit on April 24. At that time, the ASEAN leaders agreed on △immediate cessation of violence, △constructive dialogue, △mediation in the form of special envoys of the ASEAN Chairman and Secretary-General, △humanitarian aid, △visiting ASEAN envoys and delegations, and meeting with all parties as a way to resolve the Myanmar crisis. Commander Hlaing was also present at the meeting.

However, even after that, Myanmar’s military and police brutally massacred protesting citizens, and the criticism and pressure on ASEAN for not responding effectively to the Myanmar situation increased. According to Myanmar’s human rights organization, the Alliance for Supporting Political Prisoners (AAPP), 1,178 civilians have been killed since the coup on February 1 this year.

Even now, the military government of Myanmar is adhering to ‘My Way’, refusing to intervene in the international community. When the ASEAN special envoy visited Myanmar, he repeatedly requested to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, in person, but the military government refused on the 14th. The next day, ASEAN took ultra-hard measures to exclude the military from Myanmar. If the military wants to continue to represent Myanmar in ASEAN, it is a ‘warning’ to cooperate with the international community’s mediation. The military’s plan to be recognized as a legitimate government in the international community was also disrupted.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was also scheduled to hold a videoconference with ASEAN foreign ministers on the 8th of this month, but canceled the day before. Reuters pointed out that the Myanmar military and foreign minister wanted to attend the meeting. He said he was concerned that the UN might give the impression that the military government was recognized.

The Myanmar military government is also attempting to replace the Myanmar ambassador to the United Nations. When the current ambassador Cho Mo Tun, who was appointed at the time of the civilian government, criticized the military, he appointed a replacement ambassador and requested the UN to examine his qualifications. It is the intention to be recognized for its legitimacy in the diplomatic arena. The UN Credentials Committee is not yet open.

Kim Pyo-hyang reporter


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