PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Myanmar’s defense minister, under sanctions from the United States, Britain and other countries for abuses committed by his country’s military, at an annual meeting with his counterparts at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Welcome Wednesday.
General Mya Tun Oo wears his military uniform as he attends the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.
More than 600 civilian groups inside and outside Myanmar issued appeals to ministers not to invite them. They accuse him of complicity in violence perpetrated by Myanmar’s military as it seeks to quell opposition to Aung San Suu Kyi’s capture of power from the elected government last year.
Aid for Political Prisoners, a private organization tracking government killings and arrests, said on Friday that 2,000 civilians had been killed by Myanmar security forces. The army is also battling anti-government guerrillas in the countryside.
Mya Tun Oo has also been accused of involvement in atrocities perpetrated by the military against the Muslim Rohingya minority in 2017, when he was chief of the Army General Staff, the third most powerful post in the army.
International courts are probing allegations that the military carried out genocide in brutal counter-terrorist operations that saw more than 700,000 Rohingya fleeing neighboring Bangladesh for safety.
The appeal, issued by 677 civilian groups for ASEAN, stated, “The acts of the Myanmar military junta fully meet the definition of terror under international and national law, and following the military’s illegal coup attempt, international human rights and humanitarian responsible for the violation of the law.” Defense Minister.
“General Mya Tun Oo plays a major role in the management of the army, which is solely responsible for committing the ongoing atrocity crimes with brutality,” it said. “Maiya Tun Oo’s direct responsibility for violations of international law has been recognized by the USA, UK, EU, Canada and New Zealand, which have sanctioned them.”
Wai Hanin Pavint Thon of the Burma Campaign UK group told The Associated Press that ASEAN is failing to respect and stand with the people of Myanmar.
“The military will see this invitation as a gesture of encouragement to continue to fully address its human rights violations in the country,” he said.
Cambodia is the president of ASEAN of 10 countries this year. In February, ASEAN foreign ministers held their annual retreat without their Myanmar counterpart, barred from attending but allowed to participate online as an observer.
ASEAN has sought to play a mediating role in Myanmar’s crisis, as its increasingly violent unrest could create problems at the regional level. A five-point plan to help restore stability was agreed in April last year, but Myanmar has hindered implementation of the agreement.
Ties further strained when Myanmar would not allow an ASEAN special envoy to meet Suu Kyi, who has been detained since the takeover. ASEAN, under the guidance of its former president Brunei, took the unprecedented step of not allowing the leader of Myanmar’s military government, Min Aung Hling, to attend its annual summit last October.
A joint declaration issued after Wednesday’s defense ministers’ meeting included a statement of support for a five-point agreement that calls for an immediate end to violence, a dialogue between the parties concerned, mediation by an ASEAN special envoy, the provision of humanitarian assistance. and calls for a visit. To Myanmar by Special Envoy to meet all concerned.
In January, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen became the first head of government to visit Myanmar since the military seized power. He has stressed that Myanmar must be included in ASEAN activities, but has expressed pessimism that any progress towards peace can be made this year.