Beyond the Headlines: Ex UN chief meets Myanmar coup leader

International affairs

Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) and deputy chairperson of the NGO The Elders, arrived in the Myanmar junta capital of Naypyitaw on April 23 in an official visit, according to military-run media. 

A pro-junta news outlet reported that the regime invited the former UN leader to the country and that he met with junta chief Min Aung Hlaing on the morning of April 24. Citing military spokesperson Gen Zaw Min Tun, the article said that the two discussed the situation in Myanmar, asserting that the international community’s perception of the country is “one-sided” due to the coverage by certain media and organisations. Ban Ki-moon did not request a meeting with the detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, according to the report. However, he met with the regime’s defence minister Gen Mya Tun Oo, foreign minister Thein Swe, and former president Thein Sein before he left the country that evening. 

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is seen during his meeting with junta chief Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyitaw on April 24 (Popular News)

The visit was the first by Ban Ki-moon since the 2021 military coup. He had reportedly tried to meet with the junta in April 2021, soon after the military began to use lethal force against anti-coup protesters. His request at that time was denied, according to Igor Blazevic, a prominent human rights campaigner based in the Czech Republic. 


Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing met Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai of Thailand, accompanied by Ambassador Mongkol Visitstump in Naypyitaw on Friday. According to the junta-run newspaper  the Global New Light of Myanmar, they discussed reducing regional air pollution and cooperating to fight human trafficking and the drug trade in Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos. 

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai (centre) meets with junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and regime officials in Naypyitaw on April 21 (Popular News)

Also in Naypyitaw was Thai foreign affairs advisor Pornpimol Kanchanalak, who met with the military’s minister for international cooperation Ko Ko Hlaing to discuss “strengthening the existing bilateral ties,” as well as topics including the distribution of aid through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance, also known as the AHA Centre.

She is known to be one of the key players in Thailand’s foreign policy. Also known as Pauline, she is a convicted lobbyist in the US. In reporting on the recent meeting, the Bangkok Post described Ms Pornpimol as “an advocate of greater engagement with the Myanmar military regime” who opposes international sanctions. 

The meetings occurred after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand hosted a virtual meeting with junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and the Prime Minister of Laos earlier this month. 


Peng Xiubin, the Director-General of the International Liaison Department of Communist Party of China (CPC), met former Myanmar dictator Than Shwe and ex-President Thein Sein on a four-day trip to Myanmar from April 16-19. The informal meeting with the Chinese official in Naypyitaw was held on April 18, The Irrawaddy reported


The Myanmar junta-controlled Supreme Court agreed on April 19 to hear appeals from deposed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, at an as-yet undetermined date. The elected civilian leaders will likely call for reduced sentences for multiple convictions handed down by the military in the aftermath of the 2021 coup, including charges around the misuse of public funds, election fraud and violations of the Official Secret Acts. 

Suu Kyi is currently serving a 33-year prison sentence after being found guilty of multiple crimes by a regime court. 

Natural disasters

A tornado that tore through Tada-U and Aung Myin Gon villages in Naypyitaw’s Lewe Township on the evening of April 21 destroyed 235 houses, killing six people and injuring 113, according to junta-run media. 

Videos shared on social media show a strong wind blowing through trees and debris flying past houses which were left in shambles after the 40-minute cyclone had run its course. A local charity group later told Myanmar Now that many people were stuck under fallen buildings and were unable to escape.

Coup regime chief Min Aung Hlaing and other junta officials visited affected areas on Saturday and claimed to have provided aid, their own media reported.  


Regime authorities arrested journalist Kyaw Min Swe on April 12 for changing his Facebook profile picture to that of a black background following the deadly airstrike on Pa Zi Gyi village in Kanbalu Township earlier this month. Initially, his arrest was unconfirmed, but on April 21, BBC Burmese reported that the regime authorities had charged Kyaw Min Swe with incitement under Section 505a of the Penal Code, and remanded him to junta custody without bail. Kyaw Min Swe had worked as the editor-in-chief of the now defunct weekly journal The Voice until the 2021 coup. 

Myanmar journalist Kyaw Min Swe (LinkedIn / Kyaw Min Swe)

Following the bombing of Pa Zi Gyi, which killed around 170 people, many social media users in Myanmar changed their Facebook profile pictures to solid black as an act of mourning. Multiple netizens who did so were identified by junta lobbyists on their Telegram channels in posts that called for their arrests. 

In addition to Kyaw Min Swe, two other women—a singer and an actress—were detained for their profile pictures, changed in solidarity with the Pa Zi Gyi victims. All three were held at the Aung Thabyay interrogation camp in Yangon for around 10 days before being charged. They were later transferred to police stations in their respective townships; Kyaw Min Swe was reportedly detained at the station in Sanchaung. 

Urban violence

Urban guerrilla groups used explosives to attack the office of the junta police force’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Yangon’s Insein Township on the night of April 23, according to a spokesperson from the resistance group that claimed responsibility.

Members of the Yangon’s Northern District Chapter of the People’s Defence Force and the Yangon Urban Guerrilla Association targeted the office, said a spokesperson for the second group. The office was hit with two makeshift bombs and junta troops who arrived at the scene in response to the incident were again attacked with four explosives, he said. A source within the police force confirmed the attack to Myanmar Now. 

Related Articles

Back to top button