ASEAN Leaders Meet Today To Discuss Myanmar Solution

ASEAN Countries

The ASEAN Leaders will meet in Jakarta this afternoon and seek to find a way forward in ending the violence in Myanmar that involves a platform for dialogue among various parties and ensures access to humanitarian assistance, according to a Thai government source.

Brunei Darussalam’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah will chair the meeting in his capacity as ASEAN Chair. A chairman’s statement which expresses ASEAN’s collective stance and begins the process for creating sustainable solutions for Myanmar is expected after the meeting, the source said.

It will be the first time in 16 months that ASEAN leaders have met in person since the ASEAN Summit in Thailand in 2019.

The Myanmar military ousted the country’s democratically elected government on 1st February. Since then, Myanmar has seen protests swell across the country.

A crackdown on the protesters has resulted in the deaths of several hundred pro-democracy activists and the detention of more than 3,000 others.

Meanwhile, representatives of 45 NGOs condemned the decision to invite coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to the meeting, instead calling for the ousted politicians, who now go by the name of the National Unity Government, to join in the meeting.

“ASEAN leaders will not be able to achieve anything at this summit without consulting the rightful representatives of the people of Myanmar as expressed in the general election”, the group said.

The group also called for ASEAN, “under Thailand’s leadership”, to open up a “humanitarian corridor” along the Thai-Myanmar border to allow NGOs and international agencies to provide relief and assistance to the people displaced and presently seeking refuge in the forest of the Salween River along the border.

Although the United Nations special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, is expected to be in Jakarta at the same time, no meetings involving her are on the agenda, the source said.

Apart from a discussion on how to solve the political crackdown in Myanmar, the meeting will also address how the ASEAN community will collectively respond to the surging COVID-19 pandemic.