Tuesday, 26 September 2023

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Over 300 Myanmar civil society organizations condemn informal ASEAN talks hosted by Thailand’s caretaker government

A coalition of 316 Myanmar civil society organizations, including 235 who have chosen to remain unnamed, issued a vehement denunciation today of the proposed informal Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting hosted by the caretaker government of Thailand.

This meeting, organized by the outgoing Thai Foreign Minister, Don Pramudwinai, includes representatives from the Myanmar military junta, a decision the civil society groups consider “a complete affront to the people of Myanmar.”

The statement, which has been published by Progressive Voice, has demanded the immediate cancellation of the meeting, slated to start on Sunday (18 Jun). The civil society organizations assert that the invitation of the junta, an entity widely regarded as illegal and illegitimate, represents a flagrant breach of ASEAN consensus.

The junta’s violent seizure of power and ensuing terror campaign have resulted in a widespread refusal to recognize it as the legitimate government of Myanmar.

In addition to flouting ASEAN guidelines, the groups contend that the caretaker Thai government’s actions contravene United Nations Security Council resolution 2669, passed on 21 December 2021.

The civil society organizations further criticize Pramudwinai for acting without the mandate or consultation of the ASEAN Chair, currently held by the Indonesian government.

In his invitation to ASEAN Member States, Pramudwinai reportedly suggested that ASEAN should “fully re-engage Myanmar at the leaders’ level,” a decision that has never been approved by ASEAN Member States.

The civil society groups maintain that such re-engagement not only contradicts the will of the Myanmar people but also signals to the junta that ASEAN will acknowledge its authority despite the junta’s commission of numerous and ongoing atrocities.

The coalition fears that this will only embolden the military junta, leading to further violence, displacement, and the weaponization of humanitarian aid.

The group ended their statement with a call to invited states to boycott the meeting, arguing that participation would exacerbate violence in Myanmar and undermine international efforts to resolve the country’s deepening crisis.

They emphasized their condemnation of the secretive initiative of Don Pramudwinai and reiterated their demand for the immediate cancellation of the meeting.

More than 3,500 people have been killed in the military’s crackdown since the coup in 2021, according to a local monitoring group.

More than one million people have been displaced by the violence, according to the United Nations.

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