Diplomacy | Myanmar skips ASEAN summit after its military ruler excluded

Southeast Asian leaders began their annual summit without Myanmar yesterday amid a diplomatic standoff over the exclusion of the leader of the military-ruled nation from the group’s meetings.
Myanmar skipped the summit in protest after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations shut out its top general from its meetings.
ASEAN’s refusal to allow Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing to represent Myanmar at the summit was its harshest rebuke yet of the country’s military rulers since they ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February.
Brunei, who is this year’s chair of the 10-member bloc, invited Myanmar’s highest-ranking veteran diplomat, Chan Aye, as a “non-political” representative, but she didn’t attend the meeting, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters in Jakarta.
Marsudi said President Joko Widodo told the summit that ASEAN’s unprecedented downgrade of Myanmar’s participation “was a tough decision but it had to be done.”
Despite ASEAN’s bedrock principles of non-interference in other members’ affairs and decisions by consensus, Widodo said it is “also obliged to uphold other principles in the ASEAN charter such as democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and constitutional government,” Marsudi said.
“As a family, ASEAN’s helping hand must still be offered to Myanmar … Indonesia consistently hopes that democracy through an inclusive process can be quickly restored in Myanmar,” he quoted Widodo as saying.
Myanmar’s military takeover triggered widespread protests and a violent crackdown by authorities. Security forces are estimated to have killed almost 1,200 civilians, though the government has claimed a lower death toll.
Myanmar’s absence at the summit followed the refusal of its military leaders to allow an ASEAN special envoy, Brunei Second Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof, to meet with Suu Kyi and other detained civilian leaders. MDT/AP

Categories Asia-Pacific