ASEAN summit begins without Myanmar: Junta boycotts in response to the snub

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Oct 26, 2021, 02:31 PM(IST)

File photo of Myanmar military junta leader Min Aung Hlaing. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Myanmar's brief trial with democracy was wiped out by the coup, and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is now facing a slew of accusations in a junta court that may land her in prison for decades. 

Myanmar's junta cancelled a Southeast Asian conference on Tuesday after its leader was barred from attending, escalating the regime's isolation nine months after a deadly takeover.

The virtual conference marked the start of three days of discussions held by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which will include US President Joe Biden, as well as Chinese and Russian leaders.

Myanmar was at the top of the agenda at Tuesday's regional leaders' meeting, with the nation mired in upheaval following the military takeover in February and the accompanying violent crackdown on opposition. 

Faced with requests to defuse the crisis, ASEAN — which includes Myanmar — has drafted a roadmap aimed at restoring peace, but the junta's adherence to the plan has been questioned.

The group barred junta commander Min Aung Hlaing from this week's meeting after it refused to allow a special envoy meet with deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar's brief trial with democracy was wiped out by the coup, and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is now facing a slew of accusations in a junta court that may land her in prison for decades. 

The 76-year-old, who has been a thorn in the side of the generals for years, was scheduled to speak in court for the first time on Tuesday in a closed-door session from which the media was prohibited.

Min Aung Hlaing's absence from the Southeast Asian summit was a first for an organisation that has been chastised for its lack of clout. 

The decision was criticised by the junta as a violation of the bloc's non-interference stance in member nations' affairs.

In his stead, a top official from the junta-appointed foreign ministry was invited by the 10-member delegation.

On the eve of the conference, however, the government stated that sending a lower-ranking official would "damage our country's sovereignty and reputation."

A large screen displayed the leaders attending the summit at the start, but where the country's delegate was supposed to be, there was only a blue display with the word "Myanmar" on it. 

(With inputs from agencies)

Read in App