Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

Myanmar and Thailand: Turbulent Relations

Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

Myanmar and Thailand: Turbulent Relations

Article excerpt

The year proved to be a tumultuous one for Thai-Myanmar relations. Bilateral ties, which showed signs of improving earlier in the year with the visit of the Thai Foreign Minister to Yangon in March quickly deteriorated after the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok was stormed by five exiled Myanmar students on 1 October. They demanded the release of all political prisoners, the convening of parliament, and the start of dialogue between the NLD and the military. Diplomats and foreign hostages were held in the embassy at gunpoint for twenty-six hours until Thai officials defused the crisis by trading the eighty-nine hostages for Thailand's Deputy Foreign Minister, Sukhumbhand Paribatra. They were then given safe passage to the Thai-Myanmar border and released, much to the displeasure of Yangon, which openly criticized Thailand's handling of the siege and its failure to arrest the offenders.

Bilateral tension escalated following remarks by the Thai Interior Minister that he did not consider those who seized the embassy to be terrorists, but rather regarded them as "student activists fighting for democracy". …

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