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Lawmakers call on ASEAN to take concrete steps on Myanmar

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 27 October, 2021 12:00 AM
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Lawmakers call on ASEAN to take concrete steps on Myanmar

Southeast Asian parliamentarians called on the leaders of the Southeast Asian Nations to use this week’s ASEAN Summit to take concrete actions to resolve the disastrous situation in Myanmar, including by immediately engaging with the National Unity Government (NUG).

“We’re soon approaching one year since the Myanmar military conducted its coup and launched unspeakable violence and terror against the people, and devastated millions of lives,” said Charles Santiago, chair of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) and a Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP).

“This week’s Summit must be the occasion for the bloc to put in place concrete steps to help the people of Myanmar, who every day since February 1 have so bravely displayed to the world that they do not accept this murderous junta.”

APHR is encouraged by ASEAN’s decision to exclude coup leader Min Aung Hlaing from attending this week’s ASEAN Summit, citing a lack of progress on the Five-Point Consensus on Myanmar agreed in April, but called for much more to be done.

“We recognize that ASEAN took a major step in disinviting Min Aung Hlaing and letting him know that his toying with them doesn’t come free of consequences. Now our regional  leaders must use this unprecedented opportunity to step up their response even further, and make real progress on putting Myanmar back on the democratic path. First and foremost, ASEAN must meet officially and publicly with representatives of the duly elected NUG.” said Santiago in a statement on Tuesday.

ASEAN’s credibility depends on its ability to act decisively and bring the Myanmar military junta to end its relentless campaign of violence against the people of Myanmar, APHR said.  In particular, it must hold the Myanmar military to the Five-Point Consensus agreed between the leaders of nine ASEAN Member States and Min Aung Hlaing in April.

Further, ASEAN must discontinue inviting any other junta representatives to all ASEAN official meetings until there is an end to violence, all political prisoners are freed, and the will of the people for fully-fledged democracy has been heard, the group said.

ASEAN member states, in particular Thailand, must also be supported by the region and ASEAN Dialogue partners to respond to the movement of refugees in a way that respects human rights, including by providing humanitarian assistance and by allowing those fleeing Myanmar to seek asylum, APHR said.

“As well as threatening regional stability and peace, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Myanmar’s junta leaders are also accused of the worst crimes imaginable, including genocide. There’s only one place Min Aung Hlaing belongs: not at ASEAN’s next meeting, but in an international court of justice,” Santiago said.