Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit with Myanmar military leader sparks angry backlash

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Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Myanmar to revive peace efforts after last year’s military takeover has sparked an angry backlash among critics, who say he legitimizes the takeover. of the Army.

Hun Sen is the first head of government to visit Myanmar since the military seizure of power in February. The Cambodian authoritarian ruler has held power for 36 years and keeps a tight leash on political activity in his country.

In his role as current president of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he met Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who toppled the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, plunging Myanmar into conflict. violent and economic disaster.

During their meeting, Min Aung Hlaing told Hun Sen that Myanmar has extended a ceasefire with all armed ethnic organizations (EAOs) in the country, which was initially scheduled to expire from late February until the end of the year. , according to a joint statement. released late Friday by the two leaders.

Min Aung Hlaing said he “welcomed the participation of the ASEAN President’s Special Envoy to Myanmar to join ceasefire talks with and among the OAS,” the statement added. “This milestone is embodied in the ASEAN Five Point Consensus.”

Last April, ASEAN leaders, including Min Aung Hlaing, agreed on a five-point roadmap towards a peaceful resolution of the Myanmar crisis, including an end to violence and a dialogue. policy among all stakeholders.

On Friday, the Myanmar leader “pledged his support (to the ASEAN special envoy) …

Hun Sen was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn, the current ASEAN Special Envoy, and other senior Cambodian leaders.

Photos released by an army-related publication, the Popular News Journal, showed Min Aung Hlaing and Hun Sen standing side by side wearing face masks, banging their forearms and sitting on ornate golden chairs in front of a golden screen elaborated.

Protesters burn portraits Demonstrations and rallies took place in parts of Myanmar as people expressed their anger over Hun Sen’s visit.

Hundreds of demonstrators burned portraits of the Cambodian Prime Minister and chanted: “The inhuman torch Hun Sen. People who engage with Min Aung Hlaing should die a horrific death, ”videos of the protest posted online showed.

The Myanmar leader was barred from attending ASEAN meetings in October after the group’s special envoy was prevented from meeting with Suu Kyi and other political detainees, which was one of the stipulations of the ‘OK.

Hun Sen said Wednesday before leaving Cambodia that he had made no preconditions for his visit.

“What I would like to bring to the talks is nothing other than the five points, points of consensus which have been agreed upon by all ASEAN member states,” he said.

The Burmese military said Hun Sen would not be allowed to meet with Suu Kyi, who was sentenced in December for incitement and violating coronavirus restrictions and sentenced to four years in prison – a sentence Min Aung Hlaing later reduced A half.

A legal official familiar with Suu Kyi’s legal proceedings said she appeared before a special court in Naypyitaw, the Myanmar capital, on Friday for hearings in three corruption cases against her, including allegations that she had misappropriated charitable donations to build a residence and abused his authority.

The army’s seizure of power prevented Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party from entering a second term. He won a landslide victory in the November 2020 national elections and independent election observers found no major irregularities.

Min Aung Hlaing’s decision reversed 10 years of progress towards democracy as the military loosened its grip on power after decades of repressive military rule.

Bloodshed History The Burmese military has a history of bloodshed, including a brutal campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority. His seizure of power sparked non-violent protests across the country, which security forces suppressed with deadly force.

The army recently engaged in the violent repression of all dissent, disappearances, torture and extrajudicial executions. It also launched airstrikes and ground offensives against armed rebel ethnic groups.

Security forces killed around 1,443 civilians, according to a detailed count by the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners. As the crackdown has grown more severe, armed resistance has grown inside the country.

As expected, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen gives little legitimacy to Myanmar’s military regime. No mention of meeting with representatives of the NUG, no release of political prisoners, while listing the extension of the ceasefire with the worthless bcs of EAO, it is regularly broken. https://t.co/4Evq1ENQPA

– LaetitiavandenAssum (@lvandenassum) January 8, 2022 Hun Sen’s visit drew international criticism.

His decision to meet Min Aung Hlaing was “an affront to the people of Myanmar who strongly oppose the visit,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch.

“The visit is a slap in the face to other ASEAN member states who had nothing to say on the issue,” even after limiting Min Aung Hlaing’s participation in the regional group of 10 nations, he said. .

Having retained power by exiling or imprisoning the Cambodian opposition, Hun Sen may be hoping his visit will revive his own tarnished international image.

The Government of National Unity, an underground Myanmar opposition group and a parallel administration, urged Hun Sen to stay away.

“Meeting with Min Aung Hlaing, shaking hands stained with blood. It will not be acceptable, ”said Dr Sasa, spokesperson for the group that uses one name.

(AFP)

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