ASEAN Denies Myanmar’s Military Junta Chief a Seat at This Week’s Summit

10/26/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern)  The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’s (ASEAN) decision to exclude the Burmese junta from this week’s summit has been met with support from the international community. The move is an example of “ASEAN’s ongoing efforts to chart a course out of the current crisis,” Reuters reported. 

After convening an emergency meeting on Friday, October 15, ASEAN decided to deny the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, the opportunity to send a political representative to the annual summit being held from October 25-28. The move specifically targeted Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of the Tatmadaw, from participating. ASEAN will, however, allow a non-political figure from Myanmar to attend. The decision made because of the junta’s “insufficient progress toward implementing an earlier peace pact” agreed upon by ASEAN members, including Myanmar, stated the Wall Street Journal.   

Headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia, ASEAN is a regional bloc comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Some have pointed out that several members have tenuous relationships with democracy at best, including Thailand, whose Prime Minister came to power after a 2014 coup. Three others operate on a one-party system. 

Historically, ASEAN has been soft on the Tatmadaw and has withheld meaningful support for democracy in Myanmar, according to pro-democracy group 88 Generations Peace and Open Society. “Throughout Myanmar’s struggle for democracy…ASEAN has always sided with the military,” it said in a statement.   

ASEAN’s decision to disinvite the Burmese junta chief from the annual summit is its first tangible effort to impair the junta and stop it from gaining international recognition as the legitimate government of Myanmar. The global community is demanding accountability and justice for the Tatmadaw’s actions. Over a thousand civilians have been killed and over seven thousand have been imprisoned since the coup in February 2021. 

The international community has been appalled by the Tatmadaw’s actions against its people and has made some effort provoked to defend Myanmar’s vulnerable citizens. Still there is still much to be done. The international community must advocate for freedom, democracy, and security around the world, including countries under government regimes. We must continue to fight, pray, and intervene for those who are suffering and cannot protect themselves. 

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