#MyanmarRejectsAsean: Myanmar’s National Unity Government, protesters echo growing disillusionment with bloc

June 8th, 2021  •  Author:   Coconuts Singapore  •  3 minute read

By Coconuts Singapore

In the early days of Myanmar’s Spring Revolution, protestors in the streets and keyboard warriors alike called on ASEAN to take swift and decisive action against the Myanmar military after the Feb. 1 coup. However, after the regional bloc failed to hold the coup-makers responsible, disappointment with ASEAN has grown into disillusionment with many calling out their inaction.

In a dramatic display of their rejection of ASEAN on Saturday, student protestors in Mandalay stepped on and burned the bloc’s flag.

“In building a new future federal nation, we, Myanmar citizens, have nothing to discuss or relate with this so-called ASEAN organization where only unfairness is overwhelming,” a student said at the protest.

Four hundred and ten civil society organisations, led by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Progressive Voice, and ALTSEAN-Burma, released an open letter Monday calling out ASEAN’s continued engagement with the military junta while sidelining the National Unity Government (NUG) and the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), who many in Myanmar believe are the “true representative for Myanmar.”

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“The decision of the ASEAN delegation to solely meet with the illegal junta provides legitimacy to the military junta and contributes to further perpetration of grave human rights violations in the country,” said Khin Ohmar, Founder and Chairperson of Progressive Voice, in a statement.

In late April, ASEAN invited Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to their annual summit, the first international trip for the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar military, who stands accused of grave rights abuses, war crimes, and genocide. It was seen as the first opportunity by many to bring forth workable solutions for the growing humanitarian crises in the country precipitated by the Feb. 1 coup and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The five-point consensus, reached by all 10 ASEAN member states, made no mention of releasing political prisoners, including State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, who were both arrested in the early hours of the Feb. 1 coup.

The five points, including cessation to violence, dialogue between all parties, a special Envoy, and humanitarian aid, have yet to be implemented faithfully by the regional bloc. Instead, the ASEAN delegation, comprising ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi and Brunei Darussalam Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof, are engaged in a process lacking in transparency and dialogue with all relevant parties.

Reuters reported that all ASEAN member states except Myanmar have proposed the watering down of a UN draft resolution calling for a universal arms embargo in Myanmar.

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