Summit: Burmese military open to ASEAN delegation visits

PHOTO: Today's ASEAN summit in Jakarta.

Today’s ASEAN summit in Jakarta has yielded progress regarding the situation in Myanmar with Burmese junta leader Min Aung Hlaing stating he’s not opposed to a special envoy being created and dispatched to Myanmar. The military leader also said he would consider several other steps proposed by the leaders of the Asian nations. With leaders or representation from most countries of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, today’s meetings carried high expectations to work towards some sort of resolution.

Members of the coalition at the summit requested six steps they want from the Burmese military, the first of which was for Burmese authorities to allow an ASEAN delegation to visit. They also called for a cessation of violence against unarmed civilians, allowing humanitarian aid across the borders and releasing the political prisoners taken since the February 1st coup.

The Burmese general said he heard the request of the ASEAN summit and would take into consideration the ones he thought were constructive. He also said he was not opposed to involvement from the Southeast Asian coalition including a visit and humanitarian aid. The next step is to plan the visits to Myanmar figuring out who will bring the aid and inspections and when.

General Min gave the gathered leaders his perspective on the events leading to the February 1st coup and the situation in Myanmar regarding demonstrators and civil unrest until now, along with his vision of the future of Myanmar. Leaders were reported to have each given their response directly and spoke about the meeting after the summit.

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The National Unity Government, a coalition of ousted Burmese lawmakers, voice opposition to the meeting that included the brutal military leader, but no representation for the people of Myanmar, stating that with their exclusion, meetings were not likely to be successful. Security forces outside the summit, held at ASEAN Secretariat headquarters in Jakarta, monitored and broke up some small protests outside of the closed-door meeting as well. Amnesty International weighed in as well with a strong statement against the Burmese military junta.

“The crisis initiated by a murderous and unrepentant Myanmar military has engulfed the country, and will cause severe aftershocks — humanitarian and more — for the entire region.”

Some have called for Myanmar to be expelled from the ASEAN coalition but sentiment within the organisation leans towards engaging Myanmar to try to bring peace to Southeast Asia rather than alienating them. Today’s ASEAN summit was a cautious first step.

SOURCE: Channel News Asia

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Neill Fronde

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.

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