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Asean leaders urged to expel Myanmar at regional summit in Jakarta

MYANMAR’S human right abuses since the February 1 military coup have sparked a plea for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to consider expelling the country during the bloc’s two-day summit in Jakarta this weekend.

Myanmar’s National Unity Government, an opposition group formed last week by leading critics of the military junta, appealed for those gathered in the Indonesian capital to take firm action.

“Please, Asean member states, [do] not recognise the coup,” Naw Susanna Hla Hla Soe said in a phone call to Asean representatives.

“Please recognise and hear the cry of Myanmar’s people … by collaborating [with], supporting or recognising the National Unity Government of Myanmar,” she added.

The Jakarta summit will be attended by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who led the recent coup that deposed Myanmar’s democratically elected government.

Also present will be seven other heads of state from the 10-member regional bloc: the leaders of Brunei, Cambodia, host nation Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Thailand’s prime minister and the president of the Philippines have said that they will send their foreign ministers.

With a humanitarian crisis unfolding on Myanmar’s borders, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric urged those gathered to ensure that the crisis does not escalate further.

He said that UN special envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener “will be in Jakarta to engage Asean leaders on the sidelines of Saturday’s meeting, focusing on a political solution.”

But campaign group Fortify Rights said that, by inviting Gen Hlaing, the bloc “lends legitimacy to an illegal and brutal military regime.”

Spokesman Ismail Wolff called on Asean member states to consider Myanmar’s expulsion.

More than 700 people have been killed in a brutal crackdown on people protesting against the military junta’s seizure of power, as strikes and demonstrations remain a daily occurrence in most of major towns and cities.

The UN warned last week that the situation could develop into a full-blown civil war lasting years, similar to what has happened in Syria.

Speaking on Thursday, Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar president Khaing Zar said that trade unionists, who have been on the front line of the security forces’ violence, would continue resistance but needed support from the international community.

“We need comprehensive sanctions against Myanmar, especially in the oil and gas and the insurance industries, to cut the income of the military regime,” she said. “And we need a general international arms embargo against Myanmar…

“Our courageous people continue to defy the brutal terrorist military. Workers and the people of Myanmar need humanitarian help immediately.”

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