Myanmar’s military council issued multiple objections to a meeting held last week between personnel from the Malaysian government and the National Unity Government (NUG), a junta spokesperson said in a press conference on Thursday.
On May 14, Malaysia’s foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah met with Zin Mar Aung, who holds the same position within the NUG—a cabinet formed and endorsed by elected lawmakers ousted in the February 2021 coup. They reportedly discussed issues concerning humanitarian aid, as well as the establishment of a direct relationship between his administration and the NUG.
The informal meeting was held in Washington DC days after the closing of the ASEAN-US Special Summit in the American capital. Myanmar’s junta is barred from attending such events and, more than one year after staging the coup, has not obtained widespread recognition by the international community.
Gen Zaw Min Tun, the military council’s deputy minister of information, repeatedly referred to the NUG as a “terrorist organisation” during Thursday’s press conference and suggested that collaboration with the administration amounted to “abetting terrorism.”
“We strongly object to such actions,” he said.
According to the general, the junta sent a letter to the Malaysian ministry of foreign affairs warning members of the government and parliament not to engage in such a meeting again, and relayed the same message to officials at Malaysia’s embassy in Yangon.
The junta-run foreign affairs ministry released its own statement condemning a meeting between US State Department officials and NUG representatives including Zin Mar Aung on May 12, suggesting that “engagements with illegal, unlawful and terrorist entities” including the NUG “could abet terrorism and violence in the country.”
As the Myanmar military continues to battle resistance forces on multiple fronts, coup leader Min Aung Hlaing has been trying since April to organise his own meetings with ethnic armed forces, which commence on Friday.
His invitation was rejected by groups including the All Burma Students Democratic Front, Arakan Army, Chin National Front, Kachin Independence Organisation, Karen National Union and the Karenni National Progressive Party.
In this week’s press conference, Gen Zaw Min Tun dismissed any refusals to attend the talks as an attempt to “sabotage” the military’s so-called peace efforts.
Representatives from the NUG and its People’s Defence Force, as well as other resistance groups formed in the wake of the coup were not invited to meet with the military chief.
According to the military, the 10 organisations confirmed to be attending individual talks with Min Aung Hlaing include the Arakan Liberation Party, Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council, Lahu Democratic Union, New Mon State Party, Pa-O National Liberation Organisation, and the Restoration Council of Shan State, as well as the National Democratic Alliance Army (Mongla), Shan State Progress Party and the United Wa State Party.