Friday (September 23rd): Hlaing and Myanmar Update

General Hlaing

Name? Min Aung Hlaing

Westphalian identity? Burmese

Age? 66

Why is he in the news? Since February 2021 when General Hlaing’s forces seized power and plunged Myanmar into crisis, the country has gone from “bad to worse to horrific.” Last week, at least eleven children were killed in a military airstrike with many more injured. Furthermore, who represents Myanmar at the UN is still largely contested; meaning the people of Myanmar have no voice in UN bodies

Why do we care? We’re  interested in how General Hlaing and his junta government have managed to stay in power while isolating themselves from the rest of the world. Given that Putin understands that isolated, sanctioned feeling all too well, it’s no surprise that he and Hlaing appear to have become buddies. Hlaing has visited Russia twice since seizing power, plans to import Russia fuel oil, and is set to receive Russian jet fighters

Why should you care? Because it’s been over a year and a half since General Hlaing took power, arresting Aung San Suu Kyi and throwing Myanmar into chaos. It’s disheartening that it takes the death of children to once again bring the violence in Myanmar to mind. You should care 6/10 about another humanitarian crisis overshadowed by the war in Ukraine.

Who else cares? Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, cares about Hlaing’s latest actions as mortar fired from Hlaing’s Myanmar has killed refugees in Bangladesh. With more than a million Rohingya living in makeshift camps along southern Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina has her own humanitarian crisis to manage. In fact, Hasina’s government warned Hlaing that Bangladesh would inform the UN should Myanmar not stop the firing near the Bangladesh border. 

Any further comments? As Hlaing continues to grow closer to Putin, ASEAN nations have begun to question whether the Five-Point-Consensus created when Hlaing first took power serves its purpose. And thus, by extension, whether ASEAN truly serves a purpose if the member countries cannot come together.