A group of parliamentarians from Southeast Asia called on the government of Thailand to “stop engaging with the Myanmar junta” as it reportedly continues committing atrocities against its own people.
Members of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) also petitioned Thai authorities to provide help to refugees and asylum seekers fleeing persecution and military attacks from Myanmar.
The call to disengage the junta came after a meeting between the top leaders of the Myanmar and Thai armed forces in Rakhine State, western Myanmar.
The chief of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, General Chalermphon Srisawasdi, and Min Aung Hlaing, a senior general in Myanmar’s military junta, met on January 20 supposedly to “further cementing mutual trust, mutual understanding and friendly ties between the two armed forces.”
“By engaging with the junta, the Thai military and government are turning into enablers of the crimes against humanity that it is perpetrating on a daily basis,” said Charles Santiago, former member of parliament in Malaysia, and co-chairperson of APHR.
Santiago said the junta has shown utter disrespect to ASEAN by disregarding the Five Point Consensus it signed three months after the coup in 2021.
“No ASEAN member state should have ‘friendly ties’ with a military that has turned Myanmar into a center of instability which is threatening the whole region,” added Santiago.
The Five Point Consensus was signed by ASEAN member states and the Myanmar junta in April 2021 to put an end to the violence in the country, seek a negotiated solution to the conflict, and address the humanitarian crisis.
APHR claimed that Min Aung Hlaing has not shown any willingness to comply with the terms of the agreement from the beginning.
An earlier report of the International Parliamentary Inquiry into the global response to the crisis in Myanmar urged ASEAN to abandon the Five Point Consensus in its present form.
“ASEAN should engage the National Unity Government of Myanmar, as the legitimate authority of the country, and re-negotiate a new consensus with it and aligned ethnic organizations,” said Santiago.
ASEAN has earlier decided early not to invite representatives of the junta to high-level meetings, and countries like Malaysia and its current chair, Indonesia, have shown willingness to engage the NUG.
“By meeting Ming Aung Hlaing, Thailand is undermining those efforts and furthering divisions within the regional group,” said Santiago.
In December, Thailand hosted a meeting to discuss the crisis in Myanmar that was attended by the foreign ministers of Myanmar junta, Laos and Cambodia, as well as the deputy foreign minister of Vietnam.
Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore did not attend.
Thailand and Myanmar share a border of over 2,400 kilometers, and the attacks by the junta have displaced hundreds of thousands.