On 22 March 2021, Lawmakers from Southeast Asia urged Brunei as the Chair of ASEAN to urgently organize a meeting of ASEAN leaders on Myanmar as suggested by the President of Indonesia and to extend an invitation to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, to attend.
A protester in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok. Source: the Move Forward Party
The meeting must be the occasion to coordinate a strong and decisive response to the increased violence and brutality of the Myanmar military, and ASEAN should consider sending a joint delegation with the UN Special Envoy to Myanmar to monitor the situation and help negotiate a democratic and human rights-based solution.
“The Myanmar army is killing people everyday. Statements are welcome, but are useless against the military’s bullets,” said Charles Santiago, Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP) and Chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR). “ASEAN and the UN must join forces to coordinate a strong and decisive response before the military becomes totally out of control. It’s time the courageous people of Myanmar feel that there is somebody out there to protect them.”
The international community has turned to ASEAN to rein in the Myanmar military, yet despite efforts by some of its member States, so far the regional grouping has been missing in action, and the Myanmar military has displayed total disregard for its calls for restraint.
Together, the UN Special Envoy and ASEAN could be in a position to leverage the Myanmar military to immediately halt the violence and human rights atrocities. ASEAN must extend an invitation to the UN Special Envoy to come to the region at the earliest opportunity, and invite her to attend the ASEAN special meeting, APHR said. If ASEAN does not rise to the occasion it will not only fail the people of Myanmar but the entire community of nations.
“The Tatmadaw is relying on its ‘friendly neighbor’ to beat back isolation from the global community of nations. However, it’s time for this neighbor to send a clear message that it will not tolerate a brutal regime that thinks itself as accountable to no one: not its people, not its neighbors,” said Kasit Piromya, former MP of Thailand and APHR Board Member.
“Concrete steps that ASEAN must take to end the military-led anarchy include coordinating with the UN an immediate and decisive response and ceasing any invitations to its official meetings while violence continues,” Piromya added.
Last week, the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Tom Andrews, reported growing evidence that the Myanmar military is likely engaging in crimes against humanity, including the acts of murder, enforced disappearance, persecution, torture, and imprisonment. The situation has deteriorated since then. The Myanmar army is trampling through Myanmar’s major cities, randomly shooting into people’s homes and on the streets, and detaining thousands in an absolute rampage, said APHR.