(This was originally posted in WION)
Myanmar military junta leader Min Aung Hlaing will join a special ASEAN summit next week, said the Thai foreign ministry on Saturday. This will be his first official trip since the Myanmar military’s February 1 coup that toppled the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Several leaders have confirmed their attendance including Myanmar’s MAH (Min Aung Hlaing),” said Thai foreign ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat in a message to reporters. The meeting of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is set to take place in Jakarta on April 24.
Activists were not pleased with the Myanmar junta leader attending the ASEAN meet. “#ASEAN does not legitimize the Myanmar Military junta as a government by inviting MAH to attend the summit,” said prominent activist Wai Wai Nu on Twitter. “(The) Junta is illegitimate and illegal.” Myanmar has seen fierce anti-democracy protests after February 1 coup. This has seen thousands of people taking to the streets in cities across Myanmar to declare their support for a democratic government. The military junta has used strong-handed tactics including the use of firearms that have seen hundreds of protesters getting killed to date.
WHAT IS ASEAN
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional grouping that promotes economic, political, and security cooperation among its ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.