Myanmar’s ruling military will not block a visit by ASEAN’s special envoy but will not allow him to meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi because she is charged with crimes, according to the military spokesman.
Zaw Min Tun added in remarks on Wednesday that the delay by the United Nations in approving the generals’ nomination for UN ambassador was politically motivated and that the international community “should avoid double standards when they are engaging in international affairs”.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ special envoy to Myanmar, Erywan Yusof hopes to visit the country before the organisation’s summit in late October.
The spokesman’s remarks come amid mounting pressure on the Myanmar military to implement a five-point plan its Senior General Min Aung Hlaing agreed to in April with ASEAN leaders in Jakarta.
On Thursday, the Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said ASEAN should not allow Min Aung Hlaing to attend the summit later this month, adding that the credibility of the regional organisation was at stake. Malaysia voiced similar sentiments last week, saying the general should be barred if the military continued to ignore ASEAN’s attempt at conflict resolution.
The military’s inaction on the ASEAN plan was “tantamount to backtracking” and some member countries were “deep in discussions” about excluding Min Aung Hlaing from the summit, Yusof said last week.
Erywan earlier this week said he was in discussions with parties in Myanmar, does not take sides or political positions and is looking forward to visiting the country.
Myanmar has been in political turmoil since the February 1 coup, which triggered an outpouring of anger and protest that has not abated, with some civilians forming armed groups to take on the powerful army.
The armed forces seized power the day Aung San Suu Kyi was set to form a new government, three months after her party was returned to office in a landslide.
The generals have sought to justify the coup by claiming that the election was marred by fraud, threatening the country’s sovereignty. However, the election commission found no evidence of wrongdoing in the poll.
Zaw Min Tun insisted in his remarks that Myanmar’s judicial system was fair and independent would handle Aung San Suu Kyi’s case accordingly, adding the chief justice had been appointed by the previous government.
The military has been cracking down brutally on dissent – shooting protesters, arresting suspected dissidents in night raids, shutting down news outlets, and rounding up journalists.
Since the coup in February, more than 1,000 civilians have been killed, according to a local monitoring group.
Despite the military crackdown and deaths, daily protests against the coup leaders continue.
Demonstrations continued on Thursday with people marching in the country’s largest city, Yangon.
Several protests were also seen in Kale township in the Sagaing region, according to social media posts. The demonstrators laid wreaths along with candles as a tribute to those who were killed by the security forces.