Burma Campaign UK today welcomed a statement from the British government that the Burmese military will not be invited to attend the G7 ASEAN meeting of foreign ministers in person.
In an answer to a question in Parliament asked by Lyn Brown MP, published last night (19th October), Amanda Milling MP, the Foreign Office Minister of State for Asia, stated:
“The UK has invited ASEAN to the G7 Foreign and Development Ministerial Meeting in Liverpool in December as a demonstration of our commitment to ASEAN and the Indo Pacific region. The UK has been clear that the military regime in Myanmar is not welcome to attend in person. We note ASEAN’s decision not to invite Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to attend the ASEAN Leaders’ Summit. The UK Government condemns the military coup in Myanmar, the violence against the people of Myanmar and the detention of members of the civilian government and civil society, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. The UK will continue to work closely with ASEAN on our shared ambition of ending the crisis in Myanmar.”
However, this still leaves open the possibility that the military could attend via video call.
The snub comes just days after ASEAN, in an unprecedented move, announced it would not be inviting Min Aung Hlaing, head of the Burmese military, to its summit.
Prior to this decision, the approach of the British government regarding the legitimacy of the military claiming to be the government of Myanmar has been disappointing. They accepted the illegitimate sacking of the Burmese Ambassador to the UK, and the then Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was the first western government minister to take part in ASEAN meetings which included military representatives. Given their track record in this area, Burma Campaign UK had been very concerned that the military could be invited to attend the summit in person, and has been raising these concerns with the Foreign Office.
The US, UK and EU have all made decisions that they will put having a positive relationship with ASEAN ahead of concerns about appearing to legitimise the military, and have been taking part in meetings which include the military. EU officials and the US Secretary of State now regularly take part in ASEAN meetings with the Burmese military present.
The British government has acted positively in its response to the coup by identifying and sanctioning sources of revenue to the military, and encouraging more countries to introduce arms embargos. The UK has brought in more rounds of targeted sanctions than any other country.
“Not being invited to the G7 ASEAN summit in the UK is another blow to the efforts of the Burmese military to gain international legitimacy following the coup,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director of Burma Campaign UK. “We welcome the British government decision not to invite the Burmese military to the UK for the G7 summit. We urge them not to allow the military to take part via video link either. The military have no legitimacy as the representative of Burma and should have no place at international diplomatic meetings.”