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Iran Press TV

ASEAN set to hold summit on Myanmar coup; junta leader to attend

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 9:55 AM

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is set to hold a summit in Indonesia to discuss a weeks-long crisis in army-ruled Myanmar, with the attendance of the country's junta chief.

Leaders of the regional alliance will meet in the capital Jakarta on Saturday, the bloc's secretariat said on Tuesday.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said he would not be attending and that his country would be represented by Deputy Prime Minister Don Pramudwinai, who is also foreign minister.

"Some other countries will also send their foreign ministers," Prayuth said.

A Thai government official said on Saturday that Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing would also attend the summit. That has brought the ASEAN under scrutiny for what activists say "legitimizing the military," which took power in the February 1st coup.

This will be Min Aung Hlaing's first official trip since he took power after deposing de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and imprisoning her along with other political leaders.

Suu Kyi, faces various charges, including violating an official secret act that could see her imprisoned for 14 years. Her lawyer has rejected the charges against her.

The junta has ever since been engaged in a brutal crackdown that has led to the killing of nearly 740 people who were calling for the release of Suu Kyi and the restoration of her civil government.

The United Nations human rights office warned earlier this month that the clampdown risked escalating into a civil conflict.

The military government has so far detained 3,141 people in connection with the coup, according to a tally by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The 10-member ASEAN has been trying to find a way to guide Myanmar out of the bloody turmoil, but the junta has shown little willingness to engage with Myanmar's neighbors.

Brunei, the current chair of the bloc, said last month that ASEAN expressed concern about the situation in Myanmar and called on "all parties to refrain from instigating further violence."

Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore have sought to ramp up pressure on the junta, while Thailand has said it is "gravely concerned" about escalating bloodshed.

In a latest response to the bloodshed, the European Union imposed sanctions on 10 of Myanmar's military leaders, as well as two giant military conglomerates, on Monday.

EU member states said the individuals were "all responsible for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar/Burma, and for repressive decisions and serious human rights violations."

Myanmar's State Administration Council (SAC), set up by the military the day after it seized power, was "responsible for undermining democracy and the rule of law," the EU said in its official journal.

"The military forces and authorities operating under the control of the SAC have committed serious human rights violations since February 1, 2021, killing civilian and unarmed protesters," it said.

The EU also sanctioned Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited (MEC), because they were "owned and controlled by the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw), and provide revenue for it," the bloc said.

Under the measures, EU investors and banks are banned from doing business with the companies.

The military government justifies the coup by alleging widespread fraud in November 2020 elections.

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