04/23/2021, 12.48
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'ASEAN should recognize the national unity government', not the military junta

by Francis Khoo Thwe

Pressure on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations from members of the national unity government. Tomorrow in Jakarta the representatives of ASEAN will meet on the Burmese crisis. The Thai premier and the Philippine president are absent. To date, the junta has killed 739 people and made 3,370 arrests.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - "ASEAN should recognize the national unity government", and not the "dictatorship" of the Burmese military junta: said Naw Susanna Hla Hla Soe, a member of the national unity government (NUG), in a virtual press conference, a few hours ahead of an emergency meeting of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) scheduled for tomorrow in Jakarta, called to address the Burmese crisis.

The NUG was born on April 16 and is made up of members of the National League for Democracy (Ndl, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi), and representatives of ethnic groups. It wants to undermine the military dictatorship, which returned with the coup d'état of last February, and to launch a new democratic and federal Constitution, which protects national unity, power and management of resources by ethnic groups.

In the new government, Naw Susanna Hla Hla Soe is minister for women, youth and children. She stressed that “the people of Myanmar say enough is enough [after being] under the military for more than seven decades. And we will choose death instead of living under the military, under the dictatorship.”

In recent days, there have been various attempts to push ASEAN to invite NUG representatives to Jakarta, and even to recognize the NUG and disown the representativeness of the military government, formed after cancelling the results of the elections last November, in which the 'Ndl reaped an overwhelming victory.

The meeting in Jakarta, the first in ASEAN to reflect together on the Burmese crisis, was mainly wanted by Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia. It will be attended by the head of the military junta, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. But Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, also linked to a military junta, has made it known that he will not be present. The Filipino Rodrigo Duterte will also be absent.

According to rumours, ASEAN representatives should elect a special envoy tomorrow to try to stop the violence of the junta, free Aung San Suu Kyi and other NDL personalities, open a dialogue between the parties on the future of the country.

Many observers are not optimistic about the possible fruits of the meeting, given the traditional shyness of ASEAN in intervening in the internal problems of the member countries. In addition, the invitation to Gen. Min Aung Hlaing risks being a kind of junta recognition.

In Jakarta there will be - but not at the meeting - UN special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener, who will be able to have marginal dialogues with ASEAN members. In recent weeks, the UN envoy had warned the international community about the risks of a civil war and a "bloodbath" in Myanmar.

Today, the Association for Aid to Political Prisoners claims that the junta has so far claimed 739 victims; 3370 arrested.

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