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Efforts by Myanmar’s neighbors to help restore peace and normalcy in the conflict-torn Southeast Asian country have been hampered by the recent executions of four political activists in the country, Cambodia’s foreign minister said on Saturday.

Prak Sokhonn, speaking in his capacity as Special Envoy for Myanmar of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, warned that further executions would force the regional group to reconsider how it treats fellow member Myanmar.

Cambodia is the current chairman of the regional grouping and Myanmar is not welcome to send members of its ruling military government to ASEAN meetings because it has not cooperated in a plan agreed last year to work towards restoring peace.

Myanmar’s military rulers initially agreed to the plan, a five-point consensus, but have since made little effort to implement it. The country has entered a situation characterized by some UN experts as a civil war.

Prak Sokhonn spoke at a press conference after a week-long meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Cambodia. The final communiqué from the meeting, released Friday, included a section criticizing Myanmar for its lack of progress in ending the violence there, but using weaker language than several countries had hoped.

On Saturday, he described the executions of dissidents in Myanmar as a “setback” to his mediation efforts and said the nine ASEAN members, excluding Myanmar, had “agreed to see how things will develop in the coming weeks and months.”

He said that “if more executions are carried out, things should be reconsidered”, indicating ASEAN’s willingness to lower its involvement in Myanmar’s military government. ASEAN has been criticized by some of its own members and other countries for doing too little to pressure Myanmar to implement the five-point consensus.

Myanmar’s military ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February last year, then violently crushed widespread protests against her actions. After security forces used deadly force against peaceful demonstrators, some opponents of military rule took up arms.

Myanmar’s foreign ministry issued a statement Friday saying it objects to a reference in the ASEAN joint statement to a “lack of progress” in implementing the five-point consensus because “it has challenged Myanmar’s efforts to neglecting its implementation”.

It also said the four recently executed men were punished not because they were political activists, but because they were “found guilty of conceiving, inciting, supporting, arming and perpetrating terrorist activities that caused enormous loss of innocent lives.”

Prak Sokhonn said progress has been made in providing humanitarian aid to Myanmar, but not on the other key points of the ASEAN plan: ending the violence and opening political dialogue between all of the country’s warring parties.

“All I see now is keep fighting,” he said. “Why? Because of the lack of trust and the execution of the activists, be it legal or illegal.”

“And without this confidence, the struggle will continue and the political process will never begin, because no one will come if they fear for their lives,” he said.

While the men’s executions were a matter of law for Myanmar to decide, they were a setback to building confidence among Myanmar’s warring forces.

He also explained that his mandate as ASEAN Special Envoy was to work with all stakeholders, including the organized opposition to Myanmar’s military rulers.

The opposition forces in Myanmar operate as an underground alternative government, the National Unity Government, and its affiliated armed wing, the People’s Defense Force.

Myanmar’s military government has labeled the groups “terrorists” and even declared contact with them illegal.

“If ASEAN member states and external partners really want to help Myanmar restore normalcy, they should not encourage cooperation with terrorist groups such as NUG and PDF and should avoid any actions that could encourage terrorism,” he said. the statement of the Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Prak Sokhonn declined to say on Saturday whether he had been in contact with the opposition group, but said he was free to interact with anyone outside Myanmar as a special envoy.


Peck reported from Bangkok, Thailand

ASEAN Special Envoy to Myanmar Warns Against Further Executions – Europe Times News

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