Anger as Cambodia’s Hun Sen meets Myanmar navy chief
BANGKOK — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s go to to Myanmar in search of to revive peace efforts after final yr’s navy takeover has provoked an offended backlash amongst critics, who say he’s legitimizing the military’s seizure of energy.
Hun Sen is the primary head of presidency to go to Myanmar for the reason that navy takeover final February. The authoritarian Cambodian chief has held energy for 36 years and retains a good leash on political exercise at residence.
In his position as the present chairperson of the Affiliation of Southeast Asian Nations, he met with Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who ousted the elected authorities of Aung San Suu Kyi, plunging Myanmar into violent battle and financial catastrophe.
Of their assembly, Min Aung Hlaing instructed Hun Sen that Myanmar had prolonged a ceasefire with all ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) within the nation that was initially set to run out on the finish of February by the top of the yr, based on a joint assertion launched late Friday by the 2 leaders.
Min Aung Hlaing mentioned he “welcomed the participation of the particular envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar to affix the ceasefire talks with and among the many EAOs,” the assertion added. “This necessary step is embodied within the ASEAN five-point consensus.”
Final April, ASEAN leaders, together with Min Aung Hlaing, agreed on a five-point roadmap towards a peaceable settlement of the Myanmar disaster, together with an finish to violence and a political dialogue between all stakeholders.
Myanmar’s chief on Friday “pledged assist (to the ASEAN particular envoy) … in fulfilling his mandate to implement the five-point consensus in accordance with the ASEAN constitution,” the assertion mentioned.
Hun Sen was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn, the present ASEAN particular envoy, and different prime Cambodian leaders.
Photographs posted by a military-related publication, the Fashionable Information Journal, confirmed Min Aung Hlaing and Hun Sen standing aspect by aspect in face masks, bumping forearms and seated on ornate gilt chairs earlier than an elaborate golden display.
Protests and rallies had been held in some components of Myanmar as individuals expressed anger over Hun Sen’s go to.
Tons of of protesters burned portraits of the Cambodian prime minister and chanted, “Torch inhumane Hun Sen. Individuals who interact with Min Aung Hlaing ought to die horrible deaths,” movies of the protest posted on-line confirmed.
The Myanmar chief was barred in October from attending ASEAN conferences after the group’s particular envoy was prevented from assembly with Suu Kyi and different political detainees, which was one of many stipulations of the settlement.
Hun Sen mentioned on Wednesday earlier than leaving Cambodia that he had not set any preconditions for his go to.
“What I wish to deliver to the talks is nothing apart from the 5 factors, consensus factors that had been agreed upon by all ASEAN member states,” he mentioned.
Myanmar’s navy has mentioned Hun Sen won’t be allowed to satisfy with Suu Kyi, who was convicted in December on costs of incitement and violating coronavirus restrictions and sentenced to 4 years in jail — a sentence that Min Aung Hlaing then lower in half.
A authorized official accustomed to Suu Kyi’s authorized proceedings mentioned she appeared at a particular courtroom in Naypyitaw, Myanmar’s capital, on Friday for hearings in three corruption circumstances in opposition to her that embrace allegations she diverted charitable donations to construct a residence and abused her authority.
The military’s takeover prevented Suu Kyi’s Nationwide League for Democracy celebration from starting a second time period in workplace. It received a landslide victory in nationwide elections in November 2020 and unbiased election observers didn’t discover any main irregularities.
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Min Aung Hlaing’s transfer undid 10 years of progress towards democracy as the military loosened its grip on energy after many years of repressive navy rule.
The Myanmar navy has a historical past of bloodshed, together with a brutal marketing campaign in opposition to the Rohingya Muslim minority. Its seizure of energy provoked nationwide nonviolent demonstrations, which safety forces have quashed with lethal drive.
The navy has just lately engaged in violent suppression of all dissent, disappearances, torture and extra-judicial killings. It has additionally launched air strikes and floor offensives in opposition to ethnic armed insurgent teams.
Safety forces have killed about 1,443 civilians, based on an in depth tally by the Help Affiliation for Political Prisoners. Because the crackdown has turn out to be extra extreme, an armed resistance has grown contained in the nation.
The go to by Hun Sen drew worldwide criticism.
His determination to satisfy with Min Aung Hlaing was “an affront to the individuals of Myanmar who strongly oppose the go to,” mentioned Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.
“The go to is a slap within the face of the opposite ASEAN member states who had no say within the matter” even after they restricted Min Aung Hlaing’s participation within the 10-nation regional group, he mentioned.
Having retained energy by exiling or imprisoning the Cambodian opposition, Hun Sen could also be hoping his go to will burnish his personal tarnished worldwide picture.
The Nationwide Unity Authorities, an underground Myanmar opposition group and parallel administration, urged Hun Sen to remain away.
“Assembly Min Aung Hlaing, shaking blood-stained palms. It’s not going to be acceptable,” mentioned Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for the group who makes use of one identify.
Related Press journalists Sopheng Cheang in Phnom Penh, Kiko Rosario in Manila, Philippines, and Jerry Harmer in Bangkok contributed to this report.