TNLA, Myanmar military clash in Namkham, northern Shan State

A coalition of anti-regime forces says it will do everything in its power to prevent a visit to Myanmar by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen scheduled for this Friday.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the General Strike Coordination Body (GSCB) denounced the visit as a step towards legitimizing Myanmar’s “terrorist” regime and vowed not to allow it to go forward.

The group, which comprises more than 260 organizations formed to oppose last year’s military takeover, said that the two-day visit ignores the will of Myanmar’s people, as well as conditions set by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the normalization of relations with the regime.

During an emergency meeting held last April to address the crisis in Myanmar, attended by coup leader Min Aung Hlaing, the regional grouping reached a five-point “consensus” calling for the cessation of violence and dialogue among all parties as preconditions for engagement with the newly installed junta.

“These agreements were made by the ASEAN leaders, including the government of Brunei, the previous chair of ASEAN. But the Cambodian government, which is the current chair, seems to want to reverse them,” said GSCB member Chit Win Maung.

The same day as the GSCB statement was released, four countries, including Cambodia, sent official messages to the regime to congratulate Myanmar on its Independence Day.

Hun Sen stirred controversy last month when he met with the junta’s foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, in Phnom Penh and announced plans to visit Myanmar in 2022 for meetings with senior military leaders, including Min Aung Hlaing.

That announcement was met with protests outside the Cambodia embassy in Yangon, where two blasts, apparently caused by improvised explosive devices set by regime opponents, were reported last Friday.  

Despite the threats to Hun Sen’s safety, however, a spokesperson for Cambodia’s ministry of foreign affairs has confirmed that the visit will go ahead as planned.

The trip “will not be changed because we trust the host country to protect the safety of the guests,” the spokesperson, Koy Kuong, told Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Monday.

On Tuesday, junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun was also reported by RFA as saying that leaders of Myanmar’s ousted civilian government, including deposed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, would not be permitted to meet with Hun Sen during his visit.

The visit comes amid an escalation of violence in many parts of the country, as the junta continues to carry out offensives against armed resistance groups active in areas that had been largely free of conflict until last year’s coup.

According to a report released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in early December, the number of civilians displaced by conflict in Myanmar has nearly doubled since the coup, to a total of more than 650,000 people.

By bringing legitimacy to the regime, Hun Sen threatens not only the wellbeing of Myanmar’s people, but also the stability of the region and beyond, according to the GSCB’s Chit Win Maung.

“We can’t let dictators help each other in oppressing the people. Him coming to Myanmar and aiding Min Aung Hlaing would threaten not only Myanmar, but also the entire world,” he said.

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