ASEAN says Myanmar executions ‘highly reprehensible’

(FILES)(COMBO) This combination of file photos shows undated handout photographs released by Myanmar’s Military Information Team on January 21, 2022 of democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, also known as ‘Jimmy’, who rose to prominence during Myanmar’s 1988 student uprising and was arrested in an overnight raid in October 2021 (L) and former lawmaker Maung Kyaw, who also goes by the name Phyo Zeya Thaw, who has been accused of orchestrating several attacks on regime forces. – Myanmar’s junta has executed four prisoners including a former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, state media said on July 25, 2022, in the country’s first use of capital punishment in decades. (Photo by Handout / Myanmar’s Military Information Team / AFP)

Phnom Penh, Cambodia | AFP

Myanmar’s execution of four prisoners, including a former member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, is “highly reprehensible,” said the chair of a regional bloc leading diplomatic efforts to resolve the post-coup crisis.

Cambodia, which currently heads the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the bloc was “extremely troubled and deeply saddened” by the executions — Myanmar’s first in decades.

In a statement issued Tuesday, it accused the junta of a “gross lack of will” to engage with ASEAN’s efforts to facilitate dialogue between the military and its opponents.

The statement also noted the executions had taken place “despite the personal appeal” of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to halt proceedings.

The 10-nation bloc — of which Myanmar is a member — has led diplomatic efforts to end the chaos unleashed by last year’s putsch.

In April 2021 it reached a “Five-Point Consensus” with the junta which calls for a cessation of violence and “constructive dialogue”.

But violence has continued, with anti-junta groups clashing regularly with the military, which is accused of torching villages.

Divisions in ASEAN, long criticised as a toothless talking shop, have also complicated attempts to resolve the crisis, critics say.

Myanmar’s junta-appointed foreign minister has not been invited to the bloc’s foreign ministers’ meeting next week, according to Cambodian state media.

Myanmar remains isolated on the international stage, with Cambodia’s leader Hun Sen the only foreign head of state to visit since the putsch.

Since Myanmar’s coup, more than 2,100 people have been killed in the military crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group.