(CNN)The international community is putting its hopes on a meeting between Southeast Asian leaders this weekend to reach a breakthrough on stopping the violence in Myanmar, as the country’s ruling military junta continues its brutal and bloody suppression of civilian opposition.
Analysts say the special leaders meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Saturday in the Indonesian capital Jakarta could provide the best chance yet to agree on a pathway out of the crisis in Myanmar, which risks spilling over into neighboring countries and creating further instability in the region. There is considerable international pressure for the leaders to reach an agreement on how best to resolve the escalating violence, stemming from the military’s ruthless ousting of Myanmar’s democratically elected government on February 1 this year. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said ASEAN’s role “is more crucial than ever” and urged “regional actors to leverage their influence to prevent further deterioration and, ultimately, find a peaceful way out of this catastrophe.” But an invitation extended to Gen. Min Aung Hlaing — the junta chief who led the coup — has sparked outrage among Burmese activists and human rights groups who feel his presence, whether online or in person, would lend legitimacy to the junta’s rule. Indonesian bikers during a protest against the Myanmar military coup outside ASEAN secretariat building in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 17.”ASEAN needs to be careful if it is seen to be legitimating the junta even if it’s not its intention,” said Ja Ian Chong, a political scientist from Singapore. “If ASEAN is seen to be siding with the junta, that would probably create more disquiet and unhappiness among all the other groups in Myanmar.”Read MoreLeading Myanmar activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi said Min Aung Hlaing’s attendance at the summit would “signal not just to people in Myanmar but also in other countries in Southeast Asia that the ASEAN institution is immoral.” She urged ASEAN not to give the junta what it wants: “recognition and a seat with you.”Others have called for the National Unity Government, formed last week by ousted lawmakers and opponents of the coup and which considers itself to be the legitimate government of Myanmar, to be invited to the special summit. “ASEAN cannot adequately discuss the situation in Myanmar without hearing from and speaking to the National Unity Government. If ASEAN’s purpose really is to strengthen democracy, as stated by its Charter, they must give them a seat at the table,” said Charles Santiago, chairperson of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) and a Malaysian member of parliament.Myanmar's military is waging war on its citizens. Some say it's time to fight back Inviting the junta but not the National Unity Government is hugely controversial. Many human rights defenders and activists believe ASEAN should disengage with Myanmar’s military entirely and only work with representatives of the National Unity Government. Dr. Sasa, the spokesperson for the National Unity Government, said in an open letter to ASEAN it was “fully prepared” to participate in the summit and warned engagement with Myanmar’s military should only occur if the junta stops its killing of civilians and other abuses, its airstrikes in the southeast of the country, releases detainees, and returns power to the elected government.On Thursday, the National Unity Government sent a letter to INTERPOL calling for the arrest junta leader Min Aung Hlaing ahead of his reported planned trip to the summit.ASEAN is walking a tightropeThe time for concrete action on Myanmar has never been more urgent as the situation continues to deteriorate, while the country’s military leaders have not signaled any intention of backing down. At least 739 people, including large numbers of children and young people, have been killed by junta-backed security forces since the coup, and at least 4,300 have been detained, according to advocacy group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. There are daily reports of soldiers and police shooting people dead in the streets, of beatings, alleged torture of detainees, enforced disappearances and terrifying nighttime raids on houses. Meanwhile, the shutdown of WiFi and mobile data has severely restricted the flow of information, with the intention of stopping protesters from communicating and organizing. The military said it has responded to the protests in a “limited manner” and said the deaths were “not the result of gunfire by security forces,” blaming “fake news” for inflating the death toll. Anti-coup protesters hold slogans calling the attention of an ASEAN regional meeting during a rally on April 20, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar risks becoming a failed state if the violence continues, the result of which could be an outpouring of refugees, an increase in cross-border crime, human and drug trafficking and even piracy off its coasts, analysts say, which would be catastrophic for Myanmar and the region as it continues to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic. ASEAN is therefore walking a tightrope. Engaging with the military could “drive a wedge” between the Myanmar people and the bloc, Chong said. But ending the bloodshed is a priority for any meaningful path forward, and analysts say that would have to involve the military, known as the Tatmadaw. “I think there’s no way around the crisis without having the Tatmadaw at the table, because they are part of the problem, and therefore they have to be part of the solution,” said Elina Noor, director of Political-Security Affairs at the Asia Society Policy Institute. Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters run from security forces during an ant-coup demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, on Monday, April 12.Hide Caption 1 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarBuses from the Yangon Bus Service are seen burnt on April 12.Hide Caption 2 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice talk as they arrive at the site of a demonstration in Yangon on April 12.Hide Caption 3 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAnti-coup protesters walk through Yangon’s Hlaing township on Friday, April 9.Hide Caption 4 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAn anti-coup protester raises a decorated Easter egg along with the three-fingered salute of resistance during a demonstration in Yangon on April 4.Hide Caption 5 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters hold homemade pipe air guns during a demonstration in Yangon on April 3.Hide Caption 6 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters hold improvised weapons in Yangon on April 3.Hide Caption 7 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarResidents of the Tamwe area of Yangon participate in a candlelight vigil on April 3.Hide Caption 8 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople take part in a “flower strike” in Yangon on April 2.Hide Caption 9 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters wearing face paint stand near a burning barricade during an anti-coup demonstration in Yangon on March 30.Hide Caption 10 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSoldiers walk toward anti-coup protesters during a demonstration in Yangon on March 30.Hide Caption 11 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters run to avoid the military in Yangon on March 30.Hide Caption 12 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA man rides his bike as smoke billows from burning barricades in Yangon on March 30.Hide Caption 13 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters throw stones and use slingshots as security forces approached in Yangon on March 28.Hide Caption 14 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSmoke rises after anti-coup protesters burned tires in Yangon on March 27.Hide Caption 15 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters make incendiary devices during an anti-coup rally in Yangon.Hide Caption 16 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSmoke rises over Yangon’s Thaketa Township on March 27.Hide Caption 17 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMourners attend the funeral of Tin Hla, a 43-year-old who was reportedly shot dead by security forces during a protest.Hide Caption 18 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople cry in Yangon after a relative was shot during a crackdown on anti-coup protesters.Hide Caption 19 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters occupy a street during a rally in Yangon on March 27.Hide Caption 20 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters gesture during a march in Yangon on March 26.Hide Caption 21 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarThein Zaw, a journalist with the Associated Press, waves after being released from a prison in Yangon on March 24. He had been detained while covering an anti-coup protest in February.Hide Caption 22 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMen pray during the funeral of Khin Myo Chit, a 7-year-old girl who was shot in her home by Myanmar’s security forces on March 23. The girl was killed during a military raid, according to the Reuters news agency and the advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.Hide Caption 23 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA Buddhist monk uses binoculars as he squats behind a road barricade with others in Mandalay, Myanmar, on March 22.Hide Caption 24 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarThe mother of Aung Kaung Htet wails during the teenage boy’s funeral on March 21. Aung, 15, was killed when military junta forces opened fire on anti-coup protesters in Yangon.Hide Caption 25 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarUnidentified people cross the Tiau River at the India-Myanmar border on March 20. Some people from Myanmar have sought refuge in India since the protests began.Hide Caption 26 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAn anti-coup protester jumps over a makeshift barricade in Yangon on March 19.Hide Caption 27 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters take positions on Yangon’s Bayint Naung Bridge on March 17. The bridge was blocked with an improvised barricade to prevent security forces from crossing.Hide Caption 28 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMedical students hold up the three-finger salute at the Yangon funeral of Khant Nyar Hein on March 16. The first-year medical student was fatally shot during the crackdown.Hide Caption 29 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters test Molotov cocktails in Yangon on March 16.Hide Caption 30 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters stand near burning tires in Yangon on March 16.Hide Caption 31 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAnti-coup protesters pray in Yangon on March 14.Hide Caption 32 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarEmergency workers transport the body of Shel Ye Win, who was shot by security forces in Mandalay.Hide Caption 33 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSmoke billows from the industrial zone of the Hlaing Tharyar township in Yangon on March 14. The Chinese Embassy in Myanmar said several Chinese-funded factories were set ablaze during protests. Demonstrators have accused Beijing of supporting the coup and junta.Hide Caption 34 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA member of Myanmar’s police is seen firing a weapon toward protesters in Yangon on March 13.Hide Caption 35 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople lay flowers and light candles beside bloodied pavement where protester Chit Min Thu was killed in Yangon.Hide Caption 36 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMilitary trucks are seen near a burning barricade in Yangon that was erected by protesters and then set on fire by soldiers on March 10.Hide Caption 37 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester holds a homemade shield during an anti-coup demonstration in Yangon on March 9.Hide Caption 38 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester discharges a fire extinguisher to counter the impact of tear gas that was fired by police in Yangon on March 8.Hide Caption 39 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters string up longyi, traditional clothing worn in Myanmar, during a demonstration in Yangon on March 7.Hide Caption 40 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarThe wife of Phoe Chit, a protester who died during a demonstration, cries over her husband’s coffin during his funeral in Yangon on March 5.Hide Caption 41 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters step on portraits of Myanmar’s armed forces chief, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, during a demonstration in Yangon on March 5.Hide Caption 42 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople cry in Yangon on March 4, near a spot where a family member was killed while protesting.Hide Caption 43 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters lie on the ground after police opened fire to disperse an anti-coup demonstration in Mandalay on March 3.Hide Caption 44 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSchoolteachers wear traditional hats while participating in an anti-coup demonstration in Mandalay on March 3.Hide Caption 45 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA soldier stands next to a detained man during a demonstration in Mandalay on March 3.Hide Caption 46 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAnti-coup protesters run in Yangon on March 3. One of them discharged a fire extinguisher to counter the impact of tear gas fired by police.Hide Caption 47 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAn anti-coup protester writes vital emergency information of another protester on his arm in Yangon.Hide Caption 48 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice run toward protesters to disperse a demonstration in Yangon on March 3.Hide Caption 49 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA citizen of Myanmar living in India burns a poster of Myanmar’s military chief during a protest in New Delhi on March 3.Hide Caption 50 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMedics help supply oxygen to a protester who was exposed to tear gas in Yangon on March 3.Hide Caption 51 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters flee after tear gas was fired during a demonstration in Yangon on March 1.Hide Caption 52 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters smoke behind shields during a demonstration in Yangon on March 1.Hide Caption 53 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters in Yangon run away from tear gas on March 1.Hide Caption 54 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople in Yangon take part in a ceremony on February 28 to remember those who have been killed during demonstrations.Hide Caption 55 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSoldiers patrol during a protest in Yangon on February 28.Hide Caption 56 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters take cover as they clash with police in Yangon on February 28.Hide Caption 57 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters erect barricades during a demonstration in Yangon on February 28.Hide Caption 58 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice charge at anti-coup protesters in Yangon on February 27.Hide Caption 59 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAn injured protester receives medical attention in Mandalay after police and military forces cracked down on protests on February 26.Hide Caption 60 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarFactory workers hold placards and shout slogans as they hold an anti-coup protest in Yangon on February 25.Hide Caption 61 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAnti-coup protesters shout slogans in Yangon on February 25.Hide Caption 62 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA police officer films protesters near the Indonesian Embassy in Yangon on February 24.Hide Caption 63 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarThida Hnin cries during the funeral of her husband, Thet Naing Win, in Mandalay on February 23. He and another protester were fatally shot by security forces during an anti-coup protest.Hide Caption 64 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice stand guard near the US Embassy in Yangon as protesters take part in an anti-coup demonstration on February 22.Hide Caption 65 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters hold signs featuring civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration in Yangon on February 22. Hide Caption 66 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters gather for a demonstration on February 22.Hide Caption 67 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA man is carried after police dispersed protesters in Mandalay on February 20. Hide Caption 68 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA police truck uses a water cannon to disperse protesters in Mandalay on February 20.Hide Caption 69 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA police officer aims a gun toward protesters during a demonstration in Mandalay on February 20.Hide Caption 70 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester holds a Suu Kyi poster as he sits in front of police in Yangon on February 19.Hide Caption 71 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters flash the three-fingered salute during a rally in downtown Yangon on February 19.Hide Caption 72 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarFlower tributes and sympathy messages are left in Yangon for Mya Thweh Thweh Khine. The 20-year-old was shot in the head at a protest in Naypyidaw, and she died on February 19.Hide Caption 73 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters block a major road during a demonstration in Yangon on February 17.Hide Caption 74 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarDemonstrators block a Yangon bridge with their cars on February 17.Hide Caption 75 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarBuddhist monks march during an anti-coup protest in Yangon on February 16.Hide Caption 76 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA Suu Kyi banner is displayed during demonstrations in Yangon on February 15.Hide Caption 77 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSoldiers carry barricades in Yangon on February 15.Hide Caption 78 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarElected members of Parliament wave to protesters in Yangon as police surround the headquarters of Suu Kyi’s political party, the National League for Democracy, on February 15.Hide Caption 79 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMedics clear the way as an injured protester is carried away for treatment in Mandalay, Myanmar, on February 15.Hide Caption 80 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople gather around an armored vehicle in Yangon on February 14.Hide Caption 81 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarYoung people in Yangon take part in an anti-coup hip-hop performance on February 14.Hide Caption 82 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters demonstrate in Yangon on February 14.Hide Caption 83 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA child runs alongside an armored vehicle in Yangon on February 14.Hide Caption 84 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters march through the city of Shwebo on February 13.Hide Caption 85 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMembers of the Myanmar Photographers Association hold up their cameras as they call for Suu Kyi’s release on February 13.Hide Caption 86 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice detain a protester during a demonstration in Mawlamyine on February 12.Hide Caption 87 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarFarmers ride a tractor with a Suu Kyi poster during a demonstration in Thongwa on February 12.Hide Caption 88 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester dressed as Lady Justice makes a three-finger salute as she takes part in a demonstration in Yangon on February 11.Hide Caption 89 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters demonstrate in Bagan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on February 11.Hide Caption 90 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarGen. Min Aung Hlaing, the country’s military leader, makes a televised statement on February 11. He announced that more than 23,000 prisoners were set to be granted amnesty and released that day. It was unclear what offenses the prisoners were convicted of.Hide Caption 91 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarBodybuilders take part in a protest in Yangon on February 11.Hide Caption 92 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople hold up letters that spell “get out dictators” during a demonstration at Inle Lake on February 11.Hide Caption 93 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester carries a child during a march in Yangon on February 10.Hide Caption 94 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarWomen in wedding gowns holds up anti-coup placards in Yangon on February 10.Hide Caption 95 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA police officer aims a gun during clashes with protesters in the capital of Naypyidaw on February 9.Hide Caption 96 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester pleads for police to refrain from using tear gas against demonstrators in Yangon on February 9.Hide Caption 97 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice fire water cannons at protesters in Naypyidaw on February 9.Hide Caption 98 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters gather in Yangon on February 8.Hide Caption 99 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters flash three-fingered salutes as they face rows of riot police in Naypyidaw on February 8.Hide Caption 100 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarHospital workers show three-finger salutes during a demonstration in Yangon on February 7.Hide Caption 101 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA rally takes place in Yangon on February 7.Hide Caption 102 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters shout slogans in Yangon on February 7.Hide Caption 103 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters give roses to riot police in Yangon on February 6.Hide Caption 104 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarYangon residents bang objects to show support for Suu Kyi and her party on February 5. Hide Caption 105 of 106 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSoldiers block a road near Myanmar’s Parliament on February 2, a day after the coup.Hide Caption 106 of 106Engagement, she said, would ultimately be better than isolating the junta as Myanmar has a long history of being an isolated pariah state during decades of military rule. “They have been through this before and they will withstand, if need be, if they’re isolated again,” Noor said. There are further implications at play. ASEAN’s credibility could be damaged if it is unsuccessful in bringing about some form of halt on the violence, or is seen as ineffective in handling the looming humanitarian crisis. The bloc has previously acted as a bridge between Southeast Asia and the rest of the international community but its value as an international partner could be in jeopardy if the crisis escalates throughout the region or if it is seen as being too cozy with the junta. “ASEAN’s ability to somehow manage the crisis in Myanmar is actually quite important,” said Chong. I can imagine how European leaders and especially American leaders (would) want to distance themselves, because they probably don’t want to be seen coddling violent dictators.”Does ASEAN have any power?ASEAN is a regional group of ten Southeast Asian member states, from Myanmar in the north to Indonesia in the south. Established on the basic idea that these countries are stronger together by promoting economic growth and regional stability among its members.If ASEAN were a country, it would be the fifth-largest economy in the world, and it has striven to boost trade between partner nations and allow for the free movement of skilled workers. However, ASEAN has been plagued by an inability to take action on major issues it faces, such as how to deal with China’s claims and expansion in the South China Sea and its dam-building along the Mekong River that runs through Southeast Asia. On Myanmar, the group has only managed to issue a weak statement calling on “all parties” in the country to “refrain from instigating further violence.”JUST WATCHEDWhat is ASEAN?ReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
What is ASEAN? 01:53Analysts say the bloc could use its combined economic leverage to persuade the junta to change course. Thailand, for example, shares a 2,416 kilometer (1,501 mile) land border with Myanmar and is a major foreign investor. Cross-border trade stood at more than $9 billion in 2019. And Singapore is the largest foreign direct investor in Myanmar. However, both countries have been reluctant to wield that influence.”It’s important to realize that no one party has enough of a leverage on its own, whether it’s the United States, China, India, or others to pressure the junta by themselves,” said Noor. Diplomatically, the junta may be more willing to cooperate with ASEAN than other nations or regional blocs, due to its unobtrusive political agenda.”Because this is handled within the ASEAN family, there’s a bit of trust that we can solve this within our own region within our own group, and not involve external parties,” said Evan Laksmana, political scientist and senior researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Jakarta.A tough taskSo what would be the best outcome from Saturday?Laksmana said Indonesia has put forward a humanitarian pause — a cessation of hostilities to allow humanitarian aid and assistance to the country. Going further, a priority for ASEAN states would include a commitment to facilitate an end to the violence, deliver aid to the country, and start a Myanmar-led dialogue process, he said. Some analysts have suggested appointing an ASEAN envoy to Myanmar or a task force to go in country, while others have called for punishing Myanmar by suspending its membership from ASEAN. Meanwhile, human rights groups and activists have called on the bloc to impose an arms embargo, targeted economic sanctions on military leaders and junta-linked businesses, to release political detainees, and restore the country’s democratically elected government. They want ASEAN to demand accountability from Min Aung Hlaing at the summit and show the bloc’s intention that it stands with the elected government, not the junta. But getting the nine ASEAN states (minus Myanmar) to agree to even minimal action — such as agreeing on a framework to address the crisis — will be a tough task. Myanmar's military has underestimated the strength, will and bravery of its own people The extremely diverse bloc is known for a non-intervention policy and its gears grind at a glacial pace — it has taken three months for the members to even hold a meeting on Myanmar. The states are not beacons of democracy themselves and many are dealing with their own domestic political problems. Thailand, had its own coup in 2014 — the leader of which is now Prime Minister — and recently had to deal with mass pro-democracy protests. Laos is a one party communist state that heavily restricts its citizens’ civil liberties and was ranked 172 out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index. Vietnam, another ASEAN member state, ranked 175th. The pandemic has made everything more challenging. “I don’t think there’s much political will in ASEAN to take on anything that’s more ambitious at this point. Part of it is also particularly unfortunate that all this was happening in the middle of the pandemic. So a lot of the governments are quite distracted,” said Chong. Still, there are signs some states are determined to put forward a strong front. Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Twitter that in a phone call with the UN Secretary General he reiterated “Malaysia’s stand that the violence must stop; the political detainees must be released; and an ASEAN rep must be allowed to meet with all parties involved.”Ultimately, there is debate as to how much Myanmar’s junta would even listen to ASEAN, though Min Aung Hlaing’s presence at the summit suggests he is keen for regional recognition of his rule. ASEAN then, is embarking on a high stakes gamble where it could risk its already shaky reputation by allowing a ruthless dictator to stonewall attempts to resolve the crisis in Myanmar, while giving him the attention and legitimacy he craves.
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