Southeast Asian nations criticize Myanmar, but weaker than expected

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (AP) — The foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations issued a final communiqué Friday after a series of meetings in the Cambodian capital, criticizing fellow member Myanmar for a lack of progress in ending violence there, But the language was weaker than expected in several countries.

Myanmar’s military-led government, which seized power from elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021, has been accused of thousands of extrajudicial executions and last week carried out its first formal execution in decades – causing This led to strong protests from several ASEAN member states and neighboring countries. world.

ASEAN has been working hard to implement the five-point consensus on Myanmar reached last year, calling for dialogue, humanitarian aid and an immediate cessation of violence among all parties concerned.

Following news of the executions in late July, Malaysia’s foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah accused Myanmar of “mocking the five-point procedure”.

Still, in the final communiqué, the foreign ministers only “expressed our concern about the country’s prolonged political crisis, including the execution of four opposition activists”, while adding that they were “deeply concerned about the limited progress in implementing the bill. disappointment”. Five point consensus.

Cambodia currently holds the rotating chair of ASEAN, which includes the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei in addition to Myanmar.

The country has been asked not to send any political representatives to the ASEAN meeting due to ongoing violence in Myanmar. In protest, Myanmar’s military government said it would not send representatives at all, so there was no representation in the talks.

But in preliminary discussions ahead of the main meeting, a lower-level representative from Myanmar objected to the communique’s proposed wording, leading to stronger criticism from Malaysia, Singapore and other countries for the its excluded. Participated in the talks, discussing private meetings on condition of anonymity.

The diverse bloc has been rocked by an internal conflicting agenda despite ASEAN’s attempts to shape itself as a showcase of regional solidarity, with its leaders and top diplomats engaging in an unusual group handshake photo at the annual summit.

After a one-day meeting on Wednesday, they delayed the release of the joint communiqué due to differences over the Myanmar part, the diplomat said.

The diplomat said Cambodia reached a compromise on Thursday night, paving the way for the release of a weaker communiqué that was delayed on Friday.

The diplomat said there were concerns that if a compromise could not be reached, different views on Myanmar could prevent the communique from being issued, as happened a decade ago when Cambodia also hosted a ministerial meeting in a similar embarrassment.

At the 2012 meeting, the unresolved standoff centered on whether China’s increasingly aggressive actions in the disputed South China Sea should be included in the communique. Cambodia was then accused by the Philippines and Vietnam of blocking references to the increasingly tense territorial conflict. This is the first time in the history of the EU, established in 1967, that it has failed to issue a post-session communiqué.

The military’s overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government sparked widespread peaceful protests that were violently suppressed. They have morphed into armed resistance and the country has been plunged into what some UN experts say is a civil war.

More than 2,100 people have been killed and nearly 15,000 arrested since the junta took power, according to the Political Prisoner Aid Society, an NGO that tracks killings and arrests.


Gomez reported from Manila, Philippines.

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