Yangon: protests against the visit of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen

The Burmese population has demonstrated against the arrival of the strongman from Phnom Penh in various parts of the country. Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has reiterated that Myanmar's generals must continue to be excluded from ASEAN meetings if there is no progress on the peace plan.


Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A two-day visit to Myanmar by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, accused of legitimising the Burmese military junta's coup, ends today.

The Cambodian strongman and current president of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), is the first head of government to visit the former Burma since last February's coup and meet General Min Aung Hlaing. 

On his arrival in the capital Naypyidaw, Hun Sen was welcomed by the Burmese military with a guard of honour and a red carpet, but amid protests from the population. More than 270 organisations gathered in the General Strike Coordination Body opposed the visit, accusing him of "neglecting the will of the Burmese people and the spring revolution".

In the days leading up to the trip, there were explosions near the Cambodian embassy in Yangon, while yesterday in Depayin, about 300 km north of the capital, protesters burned a poster of the Cambodian premier and shouted: "We don't want the dictator Hun Sen".

Emerlynne Gil, Amnesty International's deputy regional research director, said that as president of Asean, Hun Sen should have focused on resolving the "terrible human rights situation" in Myanmar.

The Cambodian Prime Minister, also criticised at home for his iron fist against political opponents since 1997, said he supported the peace process established by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

In April, the organisation, which brings together a dozen countries in the region, had drawn up a five-point plan to restore peace and democracy in Myanmar. However, no progress had been made over the past year and in October, ASEAN excluded General Min Aung Hlaing from its summits after the organisation's special envoy was barred from visiting former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in prison.

After a phone call with Hun Sen, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (who has played a leading role in Asean in recent years and is chairing the G20 this year), reiterated in a tweet that if there was no significant progress on the peace plan, only non-political representatives of Myanmar should be allowed to attend Asean meetings. 

Over the past 11 months, the Burmese army has carried out a violent crackdown on the opposition: the military has killed at least 1,443 civilians and tortured political prisoners to no purpose.