Since seizing power, the military has crushed protests across Myanmar by arresting elected leaders, shooting civilians in the streets, beating people and raiding and looting homes. As of Saturday, soldiers and the police had killed at least 745 people and detained more than 3,300, according to a human rights group that has been tracking the mayhem.
The junta has issued arrest warrants for more than 1,100 other people. On Thursday, it announced that all 24 cabinet ministers and deputy ministers in the National Unity Government had been charged with treason and unlawful association.
The United States and the European Union have imposed targeted sanctions on regime leaders and military-owned businesses, but diplomatic efforts to stop the killing have been unsuccessful. The United Nations Security Council, where China and Russia can be counted on to support the Myanmar regime, has taken no action.
Asean, which has a policy of noninterference in the affairs of member nations, issued a statement in March calling on “all parties to refrain from instigating further violence,” seemingly ignoring the one-sided nature of the killings.
Among those expected to attend Saturday’s summit were the leaders of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Brunei. The Philippines, Thailand and Laos were expected to send representatives.
The governments of Indonesia and Malaysia have separately expressed concern about the coup, and Indonesia played a leading role in convening the meeting.
Some members of Asean, including Singapore and Thailand, have close business ties with Myanmar and its military, known as the Tatmadaw, which owns two of the country’s largest conglomerates.