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PM Prayut will send Foreign Minister to Myanmar summit

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai will attend the ASEAN summit on Myanmar in place of the PM.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha announced that he won’t attend the ASEAN summit regarding Myanmar, but will send Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai in his place. The summit, to be held in Jakarta this Saturday will address the increasingly dangerous situation in Myanmar where fear is growing that the ongoing protests against the February 1 coup could descend into civil war.

The meeting will be the first of national leaders, minus PM Prayut, as previous discussion of Myanmar has been between foreign ministers. Myanmar army leader Gen Min Aung Hlaing will attend the Myanmar summit, and the shadow government ousted by the coup has requested representation at the meetings as well.

Indonesia, stepping into a peacekeeping middleman role Thailand had played in the past, has been pushing to quell the growing crisis.

This time Thailand may be caught in the middle, with the Western world reevaluating its perception of the country. China and Russia’s tacit, if not financial, support of Myanmar’s junta, and Thailand’s hesitation in condemning the Burmese coup, shines a spotlight on Thailand’s own close relationship to China.

The lack of concrete condemnation of the Burmese junta, and possibly PM Prayut’s decision to skip the Myanmar summit, is also a reminder that the current Thai government also came into power in a coup 7 years ago. And the last year of young protests in Thailand calling for the repeal of lese majeste laws and a replacement of the current government further a realignment of the country’s perceived position on the scale of democratic freedom and authoritarianism.

Thailand is also closely connected to Myanmar not just by the geographic border, but also through 7 to 8 billion baht invested into the country. Behind only China first and Singapore second, Thailand is fearful of a complete collapse on their investments with trade shackled by civil unrest.

Exports fell 13% last year due to Covid-19, and are down another 15% in the first few months of this year and expected to fall even further. Thai business owners from manufacturing to massage shops are shuttering with staff refusing to work in the civil disarray while banking and trade have been throttled as well. Owners are calling for the Finance Ministry to restart trade assistance previously used from 2010 to 2015 before Burmese democracy.

On top of all these issues, sanctions from western nations may further cripple the Burmese economy. With Thailand’s close connections to Myanmar, and the spotlight on the situation growing globally, Foreign Minister Don will face pressure to navigate the delicate situation at Saturday’s Myanmar summit in Jakarta.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post and Thai Examiner

 

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    David Pilkington

    Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 9:11 am

    The Thai PM not to attend this special summit, called to help bring an end to the slaughter ‘next door’? With Prayut’s inability to make rational, meaningful statements, that has to be good as far as the potential negotiating is concerned but given that only a week ago he said he DID intend to attend, what is it that has passed through this man’s mind to make this U-turn? Could it possibly be that he is doubting his capability to make a difference to the outcome? No, since that would require some degree of modesty, not one of the resources in this PM’s toolbox.
    Regarding General Hlaing’s previously stated intention to attend, the latest news is that he too has changed his mind and is considering only to appear virtually – and this is the man whose commands since 1st March have killed the best part of a thousand of his kinfolk, not virtually but really.
    This meeting will come to nothing, other than to probably open the door for further slaughter, the world and its dog knowing what is driving Hlaing’s actions. And he tries to explain it as being due to a rigged election . . . the world can only watch and shake its head in despair and disbelief regarding what is happening down in distant SE Asia where the power-people, it seems, think differently from most others.

  2. Avatar

    Niko

    Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 5:30 pm

    They should invite That Dtr SASA guy i see him all over the place and he says “GUAIDO” is his hero!

    So now myanamr is going to have a government of “GUAIDOS” running the country from the web and fighting the military with their “federal army” on the internet through the game Call of Duty SEAsia special edition!

  3. Avatar

    Jesus Monroe

    Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    Why?

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

Thailand

UN representative talks with Thai officials to help refugees fleeing Myanmar

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Karen Information Center - KIC

With ongoing violence in Myanmar between the military junta and ethnic armies, a representative from the United Nations has held discussions with local authorities in Mae Hong Son, which borders Myanmar, to look into ways to help more than 2,000 Karen refugees who fled their homes to escape the violence.

Following the military coup in February, ousting the state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi who had won the election in a landslide, hundreds of anti-coup protesters have been killed by security forces. Ethnic armies, many that occupy border regions, have clashed with the military junta following the coup. The prominent ethnic army of the Karen National Union has openly supported the anti-coup movement, leading to violent clashes with the military junta. Some fear it may be the start of a civil war.

The Myanmar military launched airstrikes on a Karen village by the Thai border in March. It was a significant attack for the Karen National Union, which had signed a ceasefire agreement back in 2015. The Karen army recently took over a state military outpost by the Thai border. Gunshots could be heard just across the Salaween River in Thailand. The ongoing violence has forced around 2,160 Karen to flee their home and cross the river into Thailand.

Mae Hong Son governor Sitthichai Jindaluang says he, as well as other senior provincial officials, met with a protection officer from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to discuss ways to help provide assistance for the Karen refugees.

“The UNHCR representative was deeply concerned about the refugees and we told him that we have already provided them with temporary shelters, public health assistance, food, medicine, and other necessities.”

Troops have been deployed along the Thai-Myanmar border. If the situation between the Karen army and the Myanmar military escalates, then refugees will be relocated to another shelter about 1 to 2 kilometres away from the border.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Protests

Anti-coup Burmese protesters take up military training in jungles of Myanmar

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Burmese military camp via CNN

Members of Myanmar’s Civil Disobedience Movement, including doctors and students, are taking up military training in the jungles, where they fled to escape a violent crackdown by the junta. Crawling on the ground towards their target of a small village isn’t just in preparation for a simulated clash-the training is to help protect them while they continue to resist the February 1 coup.

Small villages in the country’s ethnic border regions are now hosting white and blue collar workers as they learn how to survive military style in the wake of the Tatmadaw, or Myanmar army’s, takeover. The coup, came after opposition to last November’s democratic election which saw the National League for Democracy party win in a landslide. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Laureate, and head of the NLD party was arrested, along with other leading members of the party. The Tatmadaw argued that the elections were riddled with fraud, but has yet to give any evidence.

Since February 1, the situation in Myanmar has been dire, with innocent civilians being murdered in the streets, with the UN saying the military is likely committing crimes against humanity. As the news of the political situation in the Southeast Asian country hit worldwide, several countries have issued sanctions against the army and its leaders. But, so far, those sanctions have been in vain as the junta is refusing to compromise at the very least.

Now, as the situation continues to escalate, people from all walks of life are fleeing into the jungle with some taking up the Karen National Defense Organisation’s free basic training programme to arm themselves with military-style skills, including learning how to shoot a gun. The chief of staff, Nerdah Bo Mya, seems to be doing his part in helping civilians fight back against the junta.
“This is a responsibility to protect life. If we don’t train them who’s going to help them?”
Nerdah says none of the 200 anti-coup demonstrators that he has seen at the camp, have ever held a gun before, with many still attending university. He says the free training also teaches them first aid techniques and basic marksmanship.
“They’re quite young, their age is around 24, 25 and some are nurses and also some doctors and medical staff.”
For students to seek training from ethnic armies shows how dangerous the situation is in Myanmar. Now, those being trained in the camps say they will come back and train the rest of the protesters. But Nerdah says he is aware that a bit of basic training is no match for the Tatmadaw. He says the CDM members need weapons in order to have a chance in standing up against the Tatmadaw, but would not say whether his group was supplying any, or whether learning how to make a bomb was included in the basic training.
“We told them they have to be wise and we have to fight with our head and not with our heart.”
The KNDO is not the only ethnic group offering CDM members free training. Videos from other ethnic areas show recruits chanting things like “for the people,” “for our freedom,” and “for our independence.”
Nerdah says anti-coup protesters are worried that, if the situation drags on, the world will forget about them.
“They all look up to the American government for democracy and freedom and if Chinese and Russian governments can help the brutal corrupt military regime why the American government cannot help these people who are striving for freedom and democracy in Burma.”
So far, the junta has not commented on the knowledge of protesters receiving basic training, but did publish a statement in the state-run New Light of Myanmar, asking those who have travelled to ethnic areas or even overseas, to return home. But as the tactics to quell the opposition are bloodier by the day, such a request remains in vain. Since the coup, more than 760 people have been killed, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, also noting that the actual death toll is probably much higher.
SOURCE: CNN

 

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Myanmar

Burmese rebel group claim to have downed military helicopter – VIDEO

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Screenshot from You Tube/Thomas Njai

Al Jazeera is reporting that a Burmese rebel group is claiming to have downed a military helicopter in Kachin province. The Kachin Independence Army says it shot down the aircraft in response to military air strikes in the province. Myanmar has been rocked by violence and political unrest since a February 1 military coup that deposed of the democratically-elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party.

Anti-coup protests have continued to take place in the country but if the KIA’s claim is true, the military helicopter is the first aircraft to be downed since the start of the recent conflict. The rebel group says the helicopter was shot down yesterday morning following days of airstrikes on Kachin province.

“The military council launched air strikes in that area since around 8 or 9 this morning using jet fighters and also fired shots using a helicopter so we shot back at them.”

Thomas Njai/You Tube

The Burmese military has not commented on the claim and it has not yet been independently verified. However, multiple videos claiming to show the incident are circulating online. According to Scott Heidler from Al Jazeera, the KIA is one of the most powerful armed rebel groups in the country.

“There are many different groups, but the Kachin Independence Army is one that has really kind of been engaged in heavier battles, more frequent battles, with the Army since the coup on February 1. They said it was retaliation for airstrikes that happened overnight Sunday into Monday, and then also on Monday morning. They said they retaliated because the helicopter involved was attacking their positions.”

An anonymous Kachin resident claims that 4 people have died in hospital following the shelling of a monastery. The Burmese army is accused of having killed around 766 civilians to date, including peaceful protesters. According to the United Nations, tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes as violence escalates between the military junta and armed rebel groups.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera

 

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