Asean 'deeply concerned' by escalating Myanmar violence


Soldiers from the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) patrol on a vehicle, next to an area destroyed by Myanmar's airstrike in Myawaddy, the Thailand-Myanmar border town under the control of a coalition of rebel forces led by the Karen National Union, in Myanmar, April 15, 2024. - Reuters

BANGKOK (AFP): Regional bloc Asean said it is "deeply concerned" about a recent upsurge in fighting in Myanmar, after fierce clashes over a key trading hub on the Thai border.

The foreign ministers of the Association of South-East Asian Nations urged "all parties for an immediate cessation of violence" in Myanmar, which has been roiled by conflict since the military seized power in a February 2021 coup.

The ministers' statement issued late Thursday said 10-member Asean was "deeply concerned over the recent escalation of conflicts, including in the area of Myawaddy".

The military was last week forced to pull its troops out of positions in the valuable trading post after days of battling with the Karen National Union (KNU) -- a long-established ethnic minority armed group -- and other anti-junta fighters.

It was the latest blow suffered by the junta, which has suffered a string of battlefield losses in recent months, with some analysts warning it is its most significant threat to date.

Myawaddy is important to the cash-strapped junta, with more than US$1.1 billion worth of trade passing through it in the 12 months to April.

The clashes drove people to flee across the border into Thailand -- from where gunfire and the boom of artillery barrages could be heard.

Since then, there have been no major clashes in the town though fighting rumbles on around the town of Kawkareik, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) southwest of Myawaddy on the main highway.

The junta is anxious to avoid losing another major town, analysts say, following the humiliating surrender of around 2,000 troops at the town of Laukkai on the northern China border in January.

Parts of the country that have been previously peaceful have been embroiled in the clashes, but analysts say the reverses do not mean the junta is in serious peril yet.

"In the larger scheme of things, the regime is clearly losing control of many areas in the periphery," independent Myanmar analyst David Mathieson told AFP told AFP about the Myawaddy clashes.

"There is still a long way to go for the SAC to fall," he said, using the junta's official name.

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. - APReleased prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. - AP

- No progress -

Asean has led diplomatic efforts to ease the crisis but has little to show for it, with more than 4,400 people killed and nearly 20,000 in detention in the military crackdown according to a local monitoring group.

Little progress has been made since 2021 when the bloc agreed on a five-point peace plan -- which Myanmar signed up to but has failed to implement.

And friction has also erupted between the Asean members over differing approaches to the crisis, with some like Thailand -- which has a 2,400-kilometre (1,490-mile) border with Myanmar -- appearing more willing to engage.

Thailand has also said it is ready to receive people from Myanmar, though the kingdom's foreign minister warned it would not tolerate any violation of its sovereignty.

The conflict in Myanmar has provoked a Thai response before, with the kingdom scrambling jet fighters in 2022 after junta planes breached the border during operations against anti-coup fighters. - AFP

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Asean , Myanmar Situation , Very Disturbing

   

Next In Aseanplus News

A Singapore foreign ministry D-G sentenced to jail for diplomatic bad misuse
We can't have nice things! Japan imposes new rules to climb Mt. Fuji to fight overtourism, littering
Ebit Lew made video call to me while shirtless, witness tells court
Co-hosts from the Caribbean, the West Indies, aiming to defy history and win a third cricket Twenty20 World Cup title
Duo get two months' jail each for attempted Istana Negara trespass
Business and Bollywood vote in India's election
Malaysia Airlines confirms death of crew member in Tokyo
Self-proclaimed bitcoin inventor lied 'repeatedly' to support claim, says UK judge
Asean News Headlines at 10pm on Monday (May 20, 2024)
Taiwan inauguration barely makes ripples across strait in China

Others Also Read