(BANGKOK, April 23, 2021)–The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should work with the newly formed National Unity Government in Myanmar and the broader international community to bring an end to the Myanmar military junta’s attacks and ensure a transition to democratic, civilian rule, said Fortify Rights today.
Myanmar coup-leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is expected to join a special ASEAN summit on Myanmar on April 24 in Jakarta while ASEAN sidelined the National Unity Government from the discussions.
“By inviting coup-leader Min Aung Hlaing and ignoring Myanmar’s elected civilian leaders, ASEAN lends legitimacy to an illegal and brutal military regime,” said Ismail Wolff, Regional Director of Fortify Rights. “ASEAN should use this special summit as an opportunity to collectively reject the February 1 coup and the military’s subsequent attack on civilians, recognize the legitimacy of the National Unity Government, and garner collective support for economic sanctions and an arms embargo against the Myanmar military.”
If Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing fails to demonstrate an immediate end to the junta’s attempted coup and attack on civilians, then ASEAN member states should consider ousting Myanmar from the regional block, said Fortify Rights.
On February 1, Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing orchestrated a military coup d’état, overthrowing the elected government and detaining President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and dozens of other government leaders, parliamentarians, and human rights defenders. The junta took over the executive, judicial, and legislative levers of power and, on February 2, created the military-appointed State Administration Council to rule the country.
On April 16, ousted members of parliament, anti-coup protest leaders, and representatives of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities announced the establishment of the National Unity Government. The National Unity Government committed to end military rule and build a federal democracy.
Since the February 1 coup, junta-controlled security forces reportedly killed more than 700 people and detained more than 3,000 in a brutal, nationwide assault against the population. The junta also deployed the air force and launched airstrikes against villages in ethnic army-controlled border areas, killing and injuring civilians, displacing thousands, and sparking concerns of a regional refugee crisis. It has also cut internet access and mobile data nationally, preventing the population from communicating with each other and beyond.
“ASEAN member states should coordinate with the international community to bring effective pressure to bear on Myanmar’s murderous regime,” said Ismail Wolff. “ASEAN can no longer hide behind its flawed policy of non-interference. Governments in this region need to show leadership and stand with the people of Myanmar by categorically rejecting the junta and recognizing the legitimate civilian leadership.”