Myanmar will not bow to pressure and raise Cambodia’s internal strife during ASEAN meetings, a presidential spokesperson U Ye Htut says.
Civil society groups from across the region met in Yangon on January 13 to discuss the recent crackdown on dissent in Cambodia, which has so far claimed four lives. They urged Myanmar, as ASEAN chair in 2014, to pressure Cambodia to stop the bloody repression of demonstrations and improve conditions for its lowest-paid workers.
But U Ye Htut, who is also a deputy minister for information, ruled this out.
“The ASEAN chair cannot interfere in every domestic issue that arises in member states,” he said by phone on January 14.
The crisis in Cambodia rolled on last week with opposition leader Sam Rainsy being questioned in court about role in recent unrest, as thousands of his supporters rallied outside.
Earlier this month police opened fire on striking garment factory employees demanding a minimum wage of US$160 per month.
Security personnel armed with shields and batons also chased opposition protesters – including monks, women and children – from their rally base in a park in Phnom Penh.
The government says the rallies were illegal and has indefinitely banned opposition demonstrations in the capital.
Speaking at Yangon’s MiCasa Hotel last week, Ms Thida Khus of the Cambodia Women’s Caucus said 23 human rights activists and garment workers have been detained.
“What happened in Cambodia should not happen anywhere, especially at this time when we are forming [the] ASEAN community,” she said.
“So we are asking for your support and endorsement [for] your government [to] approach the Cambodian government for proper treatment of the workers and the people.”
Ma Thet Thet Aung from the 88 Generation said the group supported the call for Myanmar to intervene.
“We condemn [the Cambodian] government’s violent crackdown on the people of Cambodia who were just asking for their rights.” – With AFP