Diplomats from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are preparing for talks with senior General Min Aung Hlaing, as Myanmar enters its fifth month of unrest since the military seized power on 1 February amid the growing prospect of new European Union sanctions.
Myanmar has been in chaos and its economy paralyzed since the coup, with more than 800 people killed in a brutal crackdown on dissent, according to a local watchdog group.
Erywan Pehin Yusof, Brunei’s second foreign minister and ASEAN secretary general Lim Jock Hoi, arrived in the capital Naypyidaw on Thursday, a senior Myanmar official told AFP news agency. he did not want to be named.
The envoys will meet with Min Aung Hlaing on Friday morning, the official added, and the army information team told reporters that they would soon publish more information about the meetings.
ASEAN, which has ten members, including Myanmar, has led diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis, but the group operates on the basis of non-interference in the affairs of others and acts by consensus. Observers have questioned the effectiveness of their initiatives.
It was not immediately clear whether the envoys would also meet with members of the Government of National Unity (NUG), who are mostly ousted members of parliament from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.
“ASEAN diplomacy is dead on arrival,” Myanmar analyst David Mathieson told AFP.
“The West will probably support this visit, sending clear signals to Naypyidaw for its coup to be successful.”
The NUG on Thursday announced a radical amendment to the country’s citizenship laws that would pave the way for the recognition of mostly Muslim Rohingya as citizens, saying it would work “to build a prosperous, federal democratic union where all ethnic groups belonging to the We can live together peacefully ”.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled the country in 2017 after a brutal military crackdown that is now under investigation as a possible genocide. Aung San Suu Kyi and her elected government had previously defended the actions, even traveling to The Hague to testify.
On Thursday, the chairman of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, became the highest representative of an international organization that traveled to Naypyidaw when he met Min Aung Hlaing.
“People in Myanmar need urgent assistance and protection,” Maurer said, according to an ICRC statement.
He discussed “the use of force during security operations” and advocated for better humanitarian access to conflict zones and the resumption of visits to Red Cross prison, according to the statement.
Min Aung Hlaing, however, was “uncommitted,” but did not reject Maurer’s request, the Nikkei news service said, citing people familiar with the meeting.
The process of repealing and amending laws such as the 1982 citizenship laws through the new constitution will be beneficial in resolving the conflict in Rakhine State.
This new citizenship law should base citizenship on birth in Myanmar or birth anywhere as a child of Myanmar citizens. pic.twitter.com/wIKrxDntnP
– Government of Myanmar National Unity (@NUGMyanmar) June 3, 2021
Meanwhile, the European Union is planning a new round of sanctions on the ruling generals and their economic interests in the coming days.
“There is a third row of sanctions in preparation that will be approved (in) the next few days,” European Union foreign minister Josep Borrell told Reuters on Thursday during a visit to Jakarta. .
Borrell also told reporters that efforts “to find a political solution to the situation in Myanmar belong to ASEAN.”
The international community has supported the role of ASEAN mediator, but some Western powers have also imposed increasing sanctions to punish the military leadership and its economic interests.
However, neither sanctions nor diplomacy have had an obvious effect on the military, who argue that the coup that ended ten years of interim democratic reforms will lead to a “disciplined democracy.”
The killings have also continued and, instead of talking to the NUG, the military has called it a “terrorist” group.
The army took power after the former election commission rejected its allegations of fraud in a November election won by the NLD in a staggered manner. The generals arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and senior members of the civil administration hours before announcing that they had taken power.
Recognition of the Rohingya
The NUG has countered the army’s efforts by calling for more unity with the country’s ethnic minorities and urging the Rohingya to help it overthrow the coup leaders, promising them citizenship and repatriation in a future and democratic Myanmar.
“We invite the Rohingyas to join hands with us and others in participating in this spring revolution against the military dictatorship,” the group said in a statement.
The new policy proposal is a complete turnaround for Aung San Suu Kyi’s allies, as her NLD government had avoided even using the term “rohingya,” referring to the minority as Muslims who live in Rakhine “.
The NUG also promised to end a 1982 citizenship law that discriminates against Rohingya, promising that all those born in Myanmar or a citizen of Myanmar would be granted citizenship.
The group also said it was committed to repatriating the hundreds of thousands of languishing Rohingya to the fields in Bangladesh “as soon as repatriation can be done voluntarily, safely and with dignity.”
More than 740,000 Rohingya fled across the border to Bangladesh after a bloody military campaign in 2017 that the UN condemned as ethnic cleansing.
The military claimed its operations were justified in rooting Rohingya fighters after a series of deadly attacks on police stations and has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
More than 600,000 Rohingya remain mostly in eastern West Rakhine without citizenship, restricted to the fields or their villages and many unable to access medical care.