NAYPYIDAW, KOMPAS.com – Indonesia and other ASEAN member countries’ ambiguous stand on the Myanmar crisis is expected to come to a head, after the chief of the country's military or Tatmadaw, General Min Aung Hlaing, will attend an ASEAN summit in Jakarta next week.
The meeting is the first encounter between Min and other ASEAN leaders, since the junta seized power from democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government last February.
The AFP news agency reported that Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs brought up Min’s attendance to the meeting on Saturday, April 17.
“Several [ASEAN] leaders have confirmed their attendance including Myanmar’s MAH [Min Aung Hlaing] ,” AFP quoted Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tanee Sangrat as saying of the meeting, which will take place in the Indonesian capital on April 24.
AFP also reported that the summit is part of efforts by ASEAN leaders to maintain communications with the junta.
Reports of Min’s attendance occurred, after an anonymous Myanmar official informed AFP that the junta will release over 23 thousand prisoners nationwide. Human rights groups questioned the junta’s move, as they feared it is designed to “free up space for military opponents.”
According to Myanmar’s human rights NGO Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, the military junta has killed 720 people and detained up to 3,100 political prisoners as public unrest over the military's actions continued for over the past two months.
The military takeover has divided ASEAN. Indonesia and the Philippines strongly criticizing the junta’s actions, while members such as Malaysia and Thailand are more equivocal.