The deepening crisis in Myanmar looks to be a heightened priority as members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meet in Indonesia after an aid convoy carrying diplomats from the region came under fire in the troubled country’s east.
The officials escaped unharmed, and no group has claimed responsibility for the unprecedented attack in Shan State.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the current chairman of ASEAN, immediately condemned the incident, saying, “Stop using force. Stop violence because it’s the people who will be victims.”
The violence is indicative of the human rights catastrophe that has engulfed Myanmar after a military coup in February 2021 – one that ASEAN is accused of failing to address.
Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), which includes democratically elected legislators the military removed in the coup, told Al Jazeera that ASEAN needs to immediately suspend talks with the generals and instead liaise with the NUG as the legitimate representative of the country.
“ASEAN should recognise the NUG as the true representative of Myanmar,” NUG Foreign Minister Zin Mar Aung told Al Jazeera. “ASEAN should and must engage with different stakeholders, not just with the military junta.”
Myanmar was admitted to ASEAN under a previous military government, but top military-appointed ministers were excluded from ASEAN meetings shortly after the coup, and Zin Mar Aung told Al Jazeera that the Myanmar seat was likely to remain vacant at this week’s summit In Labuan Bajo with neither the military nor the NUG in attendance.