Myanmar’s military regime has officially turned down the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) special envoy’s request to meet detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the junta’s Foreign Ministry said.
Erywan Yusof, Brunei’s Second Minister of Foreign Affairs, was appointed as ASEAN’s special envoy to Myanmar in August in an effort to mediate the country’s political crisis. He has been trying to visit Myanmar since then as part of agreements made between the military regime and the regional bloc to resolve the issues Myanmar had been facing since the junta’s February 1 coup.
Earlier this month, the envoy proposed a four-day visit from October 11-14 and requested to meet with all stakeholders in the country, including ousted State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Last week, the junta refused to allow the meeting with Suu Kyi and Erywan Yusof has since insisted on it.
On Thursday, the regime’s Foreign Ministry said that as Myanmar has been prioritizing peace and tranquility in the country, it will be difficult to accommodate requests that go beyond existing laws, meaning that a meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is impossible.
“In this respect, the special envoy and international community need to show some understanding about the situation,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The statement added that Myanmar has demonstrated flexibility in every possible way to facilitate the visit and that the special envoy should use his first trip to meet with relevant parties and to build trust and confidence between the special envoy and Myanmar, a reference to the junta’s plan to allow Mr Yusof to meet with people and politicians close to the regime.
So far, Erywan Yusof has yet to respond to the junta’s statement, which didn’t even mention Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Although the regime has yet to offer an official reason for why the special envoy can’t meet Suu Kyi, its spokesperson told the media that it was “because she is facing some charges.”
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, faces 11 cases – including sedition and corruption – filed against her by the junta.
However, the regime’s refusal to allow Mr Yusof to meet Suu Kyi could lead to coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing being excluded from an upcoming ASEAN summit at the end of the month. Some members of the regional bloc have expressed their frustration at the junta’s refusal to comply with an existing and agreed roadmap to peace. ASEAN foreign ministers are set to discuss excluding the coup leader from the summit at a meeting today.
If Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing is excluded, it will be a huge embarrassment to the regime, which has desperately been seeking official recognition from other countries, especially those in ASEAN, as Myanmar’s rightful government. The regime is regarded as an outcast by much of the international community, especially in the west, for its coup and subsequent brutality in killing over 1,000 peaceful anti-regime protesters.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has already shunned the junta, after postponing a virtual meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers last week at the last minute. Reuters reported that the postponement was to avoid signaling recognition of the regime by being in the same online room as the junta’s Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin.