MYANMAR EXECUTION WARNING
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, opening the meeting as chair of ASEAN, condemned Myanmar for executing four prisoners last month in defiance of widespread international pleas for clemency.
Myanmar was plunged into violent turmoil when the military seized power last year, ousting Aun San Suu Kyi’s civilian government. The death toll from the subsequent junta crackdown has passed 2,100, according to local monitors.
ASEAN has spearheaded thus far fruitless efforts to restore peace and voiced anger at the hangings.
Hun Sen said that the bloc was “disappointed and disturbed” by the executions and warned that further use of capital punishment would mean a “rethink” of the five-point peace plan agreed to last year with Myanmar.
The plan calls for an immediate end to violence and dialogue between the junta and coup opponents.
But the ministers – meeting face-to-face for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – are expected to lament the lack of progress, and Malaysia has said it would present a framework for implementing the plan.
Myanmar itself is not being represented at the meeting after the other members said that they would not accept a junta minister and the generals refused to send another official instead.
In a highly visible snub to the regime, a place was set for the Myanmar delegation at the negotiating table, complete with flag, and the chair left empty.
Some member states, led by Malaysia and the Philippines, are pushing to bar the military regime from sending ministers to any ASEAN meetings – including November’s summit – until there is progress on the five-point plan.