Burmese citizens warned that the military's presence at that meeting could be interpreted as an international legitimization of the de facto regime, which has killed over 720 people since taking power on Feb. 1.
In March, Min Aung Hlaing attended virtual ASEAN meetings on international affairs and defense. Some countries refused to recognize the de facto government and indicated that Min Aung Hlaing participated as a representative of the Burmese Army.
Meanwhile, the National Unity Government, which is made up of the lawmakers that citizens elected before the coup, is left out of the regional bloc meeting.
Human rights defenders have asked ASEAN countries to investigate the Burmese general for crimes against humanity. The National Unity Government also requested Interpol to arrest the general on the occasion of his visit to a foreign country. This request, however, has no legal validity because it has not been made by an internationally recognized government.
So far, the ASEAN countries have evidenced different positions on what is happening in Myanmar. While Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia have strongly condemned the brutal repression exercised by the military against the population, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos argue that the crisis is an internal Burmese problem.
"We hope to reach an agreement on measures that are good for the people of Burma and help the country out of this delicate situation" Indonesia's Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said.
The absence of a common stance on Myanmar's dictatorship puts ASEAN in a serious bind as the economic bloc's decisions must be made by consensus.