As organizations of current and former lawmakers from across the world, we stand in solidarity with the elected representatives of Myanmar’s Parliament, and call on the military to respect democracy, allow parliament to resume, and for MPs to be allowed to fulfil their mandate without impediment.
On 1 February, the day Myanmar’s new parliament was scheduled to open, the Myanmar military detained senior National League for Democracy (NLD) party officials, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. Following the arrests, Vice President and former lieutenant-general Myint Swe was installed as acting President. He immediately declared a year-long state of emergency before handing power to Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who now assumes all legislative, executive, and judicial powers under the newly-established State Administrative Council.
On 4 February, despite the coup, dozens of MPs-elect took the parliamentary oath of office. The following day, they established the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Myanmar’s Parliament) pledging to continue to conduct the function of parliament and to carry out their mandate as representatives of the people.
Parliaments are the cornerstone of democracy and essential to attaining peace, development and safeguarding human rights. Parliamentarians, to effectively conduct their mandate, must also be able to do so freely and without fear of reprisal.
We, therefore, applaud and support efforts by our colleagues to protect the institution of the Parliament and to continue to conduct the mandate they were entrusted with by the people of Myanmar. For democratic institutions and processes to be fully upheld it is crucial to ensure that parliament represents all the people of Myanmar, regardless of their ethnicity or religion.
We urge the international community as a whole, and the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) in particular, to establish a comprehensive response to ensure that the Myanmar military:
- Abides by the democratic will of the people of Myanmar and the rule of law;
- Immediately and unconditionally releases all those currently arbitrarily detained;
- Allows Parliament to resume and elected MPs to fulfil their mandate without impediment;
- Immediately restores unrestricted access to the Internet and all forms of communications; and
- Refrains from using any forms of violence against peaceful critics and respects the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.