Monday (June 21st): Myanmar Military Update: General Hliang in Moscow

General Min Aung Hliang

Name? Min Aung Hliang

Westphalian identity? Burmese

Age? 64

Why is he in the news? General Hliang is expected to attend the Moscow Conference on International Security this week, marking his second trip abroad since the February 1st military coup. As Hliang flies off to Moscow, Aung San Suu Kyi’s, the former state counselor, trial resumes today.

Why do we care? As UN Secretary General Guterres said, “We cannot live in a world where military coups become a norm. It is totally unacceptable.” And yet, the military coup in Myanmar has been largely accepted…

Why should you care? Because the UN General Assembly formally condemned Myanmar’s military coup, called for an arms embargo against the country and the release of all detained civilian leaders (aka Suu Kyi). Although the move is not legally binding, it still reflects international condemnation of the actions taken by the military since February 1st–a rare move for the UN means you should care 7/10.

Who else cares? Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Japan. As Beijing has continued to block uniform sanctions and arms embargoes at the UN Security Council, the US strategy to pressure Myanmar’s junta largely rests on Prime Minister Suga. Since Japan is the 3rd largest investor in Myanmar and one of their closest allies, Suga’s support of sanctions would certainly impact the junta’s supplies and legitimacy. However, Suga is hesitant to take harsher measures against General Hliang’s forces as doing so would effectively cede influence in Myanmar to the Chinese.

Any further comments? Suu Kyi faces trial on five charges including the illegal possession of walkie-talkies and corruption, charges that could easily put the 75 year old leader in jail for the rest of her life. If she is convicted, General Hliang will have succeeded in sidelining her from the political landscape she has largely designed the last couple decades; allowing the general to the political arena in Myanmar with virtually zero political opponents.

Sarah McFadden

General Coordinator