Myanmar says Aung San Suu Kyi in ‘good health’, met Thai FM

ASEAN reiterates need for unified response to resolve crisis and end violence amid Thai attempts to ‘re-engage’ with generals.

Protesters holding up placards calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested as the generals launched their coup in February 2021 [File: Stringer/Reuters]

Myanmar has said Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected leader who was arrested by the military when it seized power in February 2021 and subjected to a series of secret trials, is in “good health”.

In a brief statement published in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar on Friday, information head Major General Zaw Min Tun confirmed Thailand’s outgoing Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai travelled to Myanmar on July 9 and met Aung San Suu Kyi, adding that she was in “good health”.

It is the first time the military has allowed a foreign diplomat or politician to meet Aung San Suu Kyi since the coup despite repeated requests.

The 78-year-old is being held in a prison in the capital after being found guilty of crimes from corruption to breaking official secrets in a series of closed-door trials widely seen as a sham.

Major General Zaw Min Tun, leader of the information team of the State Administration Council, described the meeting between Don and Aung San Suu Kyi as “free” and said it lasted for 90 minutes. The SAC is what the coup leadership calls itself.

“We don’t know the detailed conversations between them,” the statement said.

Don travelled to Naypyidaw days before foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were due to discuss the deepening crisis at a meeting in Jakarta, raising concerns about recent efforts by Thailand’s outgoing military-backed government to push re-engagement with the ostracised generals.

Briefing the ministers in Jakarta following his trip, Don said the visit was “an approach of the friends of Myanmar, who would like to see a peaceful settlement”.

ASEAN, which Myanmar joined under a previous military adminstration in 1997, has barred the country from its major summits because of the generals’ failure to implement a five-point consensus (5PC) agreed upon with coup leader Min Aung Hlang in April 2021 to end the violence and resolve the crisis.

Asean foreign ministers pose for a group photo after their meeting in Jakarta. They are have their arms crossed in front to hold each others hands. Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi is in the middle., and the only woman.
Myanmar has become a major diplomatic challenge for ASEAN since the coup in February 2021 [Tatan Syuflana/Pool via Reuters]

The plan calls for “constructive dialogue”, an immediate end to violence, the appointment of an ASEAN special envoy, a visit by an ASEAN delegation to meet all concerned parties and the provision of humanitarian assistance.

ASEAN officials have not been allowed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi despite repeated requests, and the crisis inside the country has only deteriorated since the consensus was agreed.

At the end of their meeting on Thursday, ASEAN foreign ministers acknowledged the briefing by Thailand “on its activities in Myanmar” and said that “a number” of states saw Don’s visit as a “positive development”.

However, it reiterated that the 5PC remained the foundation of their diplomatic initiatives to resolve the crisis, and “strongly condemned” the continuing turmoil.

The joint communique, issued late in the evening, “urged all parties involved to take concrete action to immediately halt indiscriminate violence, denounce any escalation, and create a conducive environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and inclusive national dialogue”.

In a separate statement, Malaysia – which, along with Singapore and current chair, Indonesia, has urged a tough approach on Myanmar – emphasised the need for unity among the group.

“All efforts need to be based on the 5PC and the processes and mechanisms approved by ASEAN, and should not be carried out alone,” said Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir.

Source: Al Jazeera