Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — Southeast Asian leaders will meet with Myanmar’s top general and coup leaders at an emergency summit in Indonesia on Saturday, according to security forces that have killed hundreds of protesters. As the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political detainees who are expected to call for the end of the violence.
The two-hour rally in Jakarta between Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and the Head of State of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations can hardly be expected to break through immediately. However, his decision to confront them offers a rare opportunity to directly deal with a general whose 10-country block expelled one of its leaders in a coup d’etat on February 1.
Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Barakrishnan said on the eve of the summit that “the tragedy that unfolds will have serious consequences for Myanmar, ASEAN and the region.”
One proposal discussed at the preliminary meeting is for Brunei Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah (now ASEAN Chair) to visit Myanmar to meet with military leadership and Suu Kyi’s camp to facilitate dialogue. A Southeast Asian diplomat said that ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi (also from Brunei) would accompany him on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Another diplomat said humanitarian aid could be provided to Myanmar if the situation improved. Diplomats also spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss such plans.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has expressed hope that “we can reach an agreement on the next steps that can help Myanmar people get out of this delicate situation.”
After the coup, ASEAN did not expect to condemn the seizure of power through Brunei, but issued a statement calling for “pursuing dialogue, reconciliation and return to normal according to the will and interests of the Myanmar people.” did. However, under Western pressure, regional groups struggled to take a stronger position on the issue, but continued to take a non-conflicting approach.
Southeast Asian diplomats said all ASEAN countries agreed to meet Min Aung Hlaing, but did not address him as head of state of Myanmar at the summit. Critics said ASEAN’s decision to meet him was unacceptable and justified the subsequent capsizing and deadly crackdown. Daily shootings by police and soldiers killed more than 700 protesters and bystanders, according to several independent tally.
Amnesty International has urged Indonesia and other ASEAN countries to investigate Min Aung Hlaing on “a credible claim of liability for crimes against humanity in Myanmar.” Indonesia, as a party to the UN Convention against torture, said it has a legal obligation to prosecute or hand over suspected perpetrators on its territory.
“Myanmar’s crisis caused by the military poses the greatest challenge to ASEAN in its history,” said Emarin Gil, a London-based rights group. “This is not an internal issue in Myanmar, but a major human rights and humanitarian crisis affecting the entire region and beyond.”
More than 4,300 police have instigated the entire Indonesian capital to secure meetings held under strict safeguards during the pandemic. Indonesia reports the most COVID-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia.
Thai and Filipino leaders skipped the summit to address the outbreak of the coronavirus in their hometown. Laos, which has the lowest number of infections in the region but imposed a blockade this week, was also canceled at the last minute. The face-to-face summit is the first summit in over a year by ASEAN leaders.
The diversity of ASEAN, including the diverse relations of many member states to China or the United States, has the basic policy of not interfering with each other’s internal affairs and being determined by consensus, as well as the ability of Block to respond quickly to crises. I’ve been hindering you.
With the exception of Myanmar, the regional block groups are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Associated Press journalists Kiko Rosario and Grant Peck in Bangkok, Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, and Irene Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia contributed to this report.