The Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the current holder of its rotating chair, Cambodia, have welcomed some of the generals responsible for the Myanmar regime’s atrocities against its own people, who reject military rule.
Myanmar’s Chief of Military Security Affairs Lieutenant General Ye Win Oo attended the 19th ASEAN Military Intelligence Meeting (AMIM-19) in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, according to junta-run media. The meeting discussed the exchange of visits between ASEAN intelligence officers and the establishment of the ASEAN Military Intelligence Community.
On Thursday, the regime’s armed forces Chief of the General Staff General Maung Maung Aye, Chief of Staff (Army) Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun and Lt-Gen Ye Win Oo joined the 19th ASEAN Chiefs of Defense Forces Meeting (ACDFM-19), the junta media said.
Myanmar has been in political and social turmoil since February last year when the military staged a coup against the country’s democratically elected National League for Democracy government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. More than one year on, the takeover has been seriously resisted by the majority of the country’s people.
The regime has stopped at nothing to crush the opposition. It has sent battalions to bombard the resistance’s stronghold areas. Fighter jets have been called in to rain down bombs on civilian neighborhoods accused of harboring resistance fighters. Villages have been raided and torched, their residents shot down or killed regardless of their age. So far, the regime has killed at least 1,500 people, mostly for their anti-junta activism.
While regime chief Min Aung Hlaing bears ultimate responsibility for the atrocities, the three generals who appeared at the ASEAN meetings this week have also played a role in the raids, torching and killings mentioned above. As the Chief of the General Staff of Army, Air and Navy, Gen. Maung Maung Aye shares in the guilt for the crimes that ground troops and air force personnel have committed. So does Lt-Gen Moe Myint Tun, the Chief of Staff of Army. Chief of Military Security Affairs Lt-Gen Ye Win Oo is no exception. His notorious military security affairs unit is the regime’s main apparatus for tracing resistance members by any means, including brutal raids on homes. Those who are detained undergo hellish and often deadly interrogations.
Since last year, ASEAN has tried to cool the situation in Myanmar, but its Five Point Consensus, which includes a call for the immediate cessation of violence in the country, has been largely ignored by the coup leader. In response, the regional bloc banned Min Aung Hlaing from attending its summits.
But while Min Aung Hlaing has been sidelined, his juniors are still allowed to join some meetings like the ones on Tuesday and Thursday, leading to criticism that ASEAN’s approach to the junta lacks consistency.
Cambodia is not helping in this regard. Its Prime Minister Hun Sen became the first national leader to personally meet Min Aung Hlaing after the coup, while others have shunned him. He dreamed of brokering a thaw in relations between the junta and ASEAN, but later admitted Myanmar’s regime had made no progress in resolving the crisis and said a solution was unlikely during the remainder of his year as chair.
However, Cambodia said early this month that the country’s foreign minister will go to Myanmar on Sunday as the ASEAN special envoy.