Thailand is insisting that it wants to see peace in Myanmar, pledging to work with the international community, especially the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre), to end the conflict there.
Neighbouring Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew its elected government in February. The country is now on the brink of civil war as rebels, including pro-democracy civilian militias and ethnic groups, wage offensives against Myanmar’s military junta, or Tatmadaw.
According to reports, the Tatmadaw has been increasing attacks in ethnic areas, including near the Thai border, raising concerns that Thailand could face an influx of refugees. More than 700 people have been killed in the conflict.
Earlier, Thailand was denounced for abstaining during a vote on a UN resolution to ban arms exports to Myanmar. The government was also criticised by humanitarian workers for not allowing activists to send aid to refugees at the border and secretly assisting the Tatmadaw, worsening the humanitarian crisis.
Tanee Sangrat, director-general of the Department of Information and spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, yesterday responded to media inquiries regarding Thailand’s view on the situation in Myanmar.
He said Thailand is closely monitoring the situation and is concerned that violence is occurring in many parts throughout the country, calling it a humanitarian crisis.
“As a close neighbouring country, Thailand wishes to see peace, stability and the well-being of the people in Myanmar,” Mr Sangrat said. “Thailand does not have the ‘luxury of distance’, but has to take into account the reality of having over 2,400km of common land border with Myanmar.”
“This is why Thailand cannot afford to be complacent about what is happening in Myanmar,” he added.
He insisted that Thailand believes ASEAN can play an important role in helping create a conducive environment for dialogue in Myanmar. Therefore, Thailand wants to see the appointment of the ASEAN special envoy, to be appointed by the bloc, as soon as possible so discussions with conflicting Myanmar parties can begin, he said.
“Without dialogue among the parties in Myanmar, resolution on existing economic and humanitarian problems, including the spread of COVID-19, would not be effective,” Mr Sangrat said.
He added at the Asean level, Thailand wants the AHA Centre to commence operation as soon as possible to help a great number of Myanmar people who are in need, particularly in the area of public health.