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6/20/2023 Thailand / Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – The Thai government announced a third meeting this week for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other nations to discuss the ongoing Myanmar conflict.  

A statement from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that the purpose of the meeting is to explore a range of potential actions to support ongoing ASEAN-led efforts to resolve the civil war in Myanmar. Representatives from Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, and Vietnam will reportedly attend.  

Previous ASEAN-led negotiations excluded representatives from Myanmar, but this meeting will—despite the controversy—include the Tatmadaw, as the military government is known. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore have been more critical of the Myanmar regime and are among the ASEAN members that will not take part in this meeting. 

After a repressive response to widespread opposition to the military coup in 2021, the situation in Myanmar devolved into a large-scale civil war. The Indonesian president remarked at a summit in May 2023 that there had been no progress toward a resolution in Myanmar.  

In 2021, Myanmar agreed to a plan to restore peace and stability. When the military government did not carry out the plan, ASEAN barred Myanmar from sending representatives to later meetings. The Thai foreign minister said that inviting representatives from Myanmar to the meeting hosted by the Thai government would allow any nation, including ASEAN members, to assess the situation in Myanmar directly. A statement from more than 300 civil organizations in Myanmar denounced the meeting as detrimental to the cause of political liberty. 

As government security forces try to subdue rebel groups throughout the country, the Christian community in states such as Chin, Kachin, Karen, and Kayah face severe hardship and potential persecution with impunity.  

International Christian Concern (ICC) recently reported on the overall effect of the civil war in Myanmar, leaving approximately 30,000 people killed and more than 2 million displaced. The recent cyclone that devastated southwestern Myanmar further strained suffering Christians, according to other ICC reports. 

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