Myanmar’s junta leader landed in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on Saturday to attend a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders on the Myanmar crisis.
Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s arrival was shown through a video uploaded by the Indonesian Presidential Secretariat on Youtube.
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, and Laos Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith also arrived in Jakarta on Saturday.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the ASEAN leaders’ meeting was an initiative of the host country and a follow-up to President Joko Widodo’s talks with Sultan of Brunei Darussalam Hassanal Bolkiah last month.
Bolkiah, the current ASEAN chair, is presiding over the meeting.
Meanwhile, civil society groups in Indonesia protested against ASEAN for inviting Myanmar’s junta leader to the bloc leaders’ meeting.
The Urban Poor People’s Network (JRMK) and the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC) rallied near the office of the ASEAN Secretariat, the meeting venue in Jakarta.
“We demand ASEAN not to recognize the military junta as the power holder,” Gugun Muhammad, the protest coordinator, told Anadolu Agency.
Muhammad urged ASEAN to recognize the National Unity Government (NUG), which was formed by opponents of Myanmar’s junta, including ousted members of parliament and leaders of anti-coup protests and ethnic minorities.
The groups also called on ASEAN to stop the violence in Myanmar at all costs.
Muhammad said ASEAN member countries need to impose an embargo or cut ties with businesses associated with the Myanmar military.
“We urge the junta to release prisoners who are currently being held by the military,” he added.
The rally, to which 30 protesters attended, was forcibly dispersed by police.
*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo with Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian language services in Jakarta