Alternative Channels of Support on Humanitarian Aid must be Supported by ASEAN and the Broader International Community

October 19th, 2021  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  9 minute read
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“The humanitarian aid is not reaching the people on the ground. We have to be clear why the aid is not reaching the ground. The main obstacle of delivery of aid to the ground is the illegal military junta.”

Khin Ohmar, founder and chairperson of the Advisory Board of Progressive Voice

More than eight-months since the attempted coup d’etat by the Myanmar junta, the European Parliament passed a Resolution on Myanmar urging the European Union (EU) to impose further targeted sanctions against the military junta and their affiliated businesses on 7 October 2021. Meanwhile, the Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act of 2021, also known as the Burma Act, was introduced by United States (US) legislators in Congress. These are concrete policy direction efforts taken by the EU Parliament and the US congress, and thus, should be welcomed. Nevertheless, as the junta continues to terrorize the people of Myanmar, international donors including the EU, the US, and the United Nations (UN) agencies must partner with local humanitarian and medical networks, ethnic service providers, community-based and civil society organizations, and redirect humanitarian aid through cross-border channels, including providing protection and assistance for those fleeing the junta’s crackdowns and sheltering in ethnic-controlled areas. The broader international community must also ensure that ASEAN cooperates with other international bodies and organizations in addressing the unfolding human rights and humanitarian crises in Myanmar.

Although the EU Parliament adopting the Resolution and the US Congress’s introduction of the Burma Act 2021 are significant and welcome moves, in general, a lack of swift and substantial action from EU and US allows further room for ASEAN to continue to legitimize and embolden the junta that is committing extreme violence and atrocity crimes with total impunity.  As of October 11, 7196 have been detained, with 8867 arrested, and 1164 killed according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. The military junta is desperate and has intensified its attacks in multiple fronts in its ongoing attempt to defeat all people’s resistance forces across the country. Thus, clashes have continued across the country and have increased, more recently in Thayat Chaung Township in Tanintharyi Region, near Mong Ko in northern Shan State, Karenni State, Sagaing Region and Chin State. The Myanmar military junta continues to commit crimes against humanity and war crimes, deliberately targeting civilians in villages, looting properties, destroying houses, and using civilians as human shields during their ground clearance operations against armed resistance forces as well as people’s non-violent political defiance protests. Local media outlet, Than Lwin Times reported on 6 October that the military’s offensive attack has displaced nearly 1,000 people in Thayat Chaung Township, Tanintharyi Region.

Due to indiscriminate and heavy attacks by the military junta, nearly half of the population of Karenni State, over 139,000 people, have been displaced since March 2021. To make the situation worse, the military continues to arrest volunteers who are providing humanitarian assistance to the displaced people in their respective towns. On 5 October, local media Kantarawaddy Times reported that 30 local humanitarian volunteers were arrested by the military junta while transporting aid for the internally displaced people in Karenni State. The military junta has long proved over decades to the world that they have no mercy on the civilian populations when it comes to grabbing power to sustain its own interests.

In the face of the junta’s campaign of terror, the regional bloc, ASEAN, continues to lack the political will to side with the people of Myanmar and their representative government, the National Unity Government. Rather, it has disappointingly chosen to side with the military junta which is a criminal organization and the root cause of all conflicts and multiple crises in Myanmar. As the military junta continues to blatantly disregard the Five Point Consensus reached between the leaders of ASEAN and the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing, ASEAN must take concrete action to resolve the crisis in Myanmar. Yet, no progress has been made on the part of ASEAN even after nearly six-months since the Five Point Consensus was reached. The junta has shown no sign to adhere to any part of this agreement, rather it has intensified its campaign of terror throughout Myanmar. To preserve the credibility of ASEAN as a regional bloc, it is vital that ASEAN Member States do not extend an invitation to the Myanmar military junta as a ‘non-political representative’ for the upcoming ASEAN Summit due to take place between 26 – 28 October. Instead, it must recognize and support the National Unity Government by inviting them to its rightful place at the summit. ASEAN must not further damage its credibility and reputation in the eyes of the people of Myanmar and the international community by extending the invitation to this illegitimate and brutal junta.

As ASEAN has clearly failed to deliver meaningful change on the ground, there is no sign of immediate cessation of violence by the military junta. On 4 October, Myanmar Civil Society Organizations launched the Myanmar version of the briefer entitled “Nowhere to Run: Deepening Humanitarian Crisis in Myanmar” through an online webinar calling for UN agencies, donors, and international humanitarian organizations to disengage from working with the junta as a partner or signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the provision of humanitarian assistance, preventing them from weaponizing humanitarian aid in their campaign of terror against the people.

During the launch of the briefing paper, Khin Ohmar, founder and chairperson of the Advisory Board of Progressive Voice, stated: “The humanitarian aid is not reaching the people on the ground. We have to be clear why the aid is not reaching the ground. The main obstacle of delivery of aid to the ground is the illegal military junta. The international community must not normalize the coup. Nothing is neutral when working with the illegitimate and brutal junta who commits genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. International NGOs and UN agencies must not sign MoUs with the junta. If they do, they are politicizing the crisis by making a political judgement that the junta represents the government, while knowingly that the junta is an illegal organization. Instead, they must sign MoUs and work with the NUG and Ethnic Health Organizations if they want to ensure that the aid reaches and helps the people who are in need. Myanmar people are categorically rejecting the junta and calling out to the international community to stand in solidarity with them in this critical time when the people are most in need. The people of Myanmar are making great sacrifices to end this military tyranny and restore democracy for their future and the future of their young generations. In contrast, what is there for the international community to lose for not working with the junta?”


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

Open Letter to Members of the U.S. Congress to Pass the Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act of 2021

By 242 Burmese Diaspora, Community based-organizations and Civil Society Organizations

Myanmar: Open letter on the need for urgent action to end violations and impunity in Myanmar

By Amnesty International

European Parliament Calls for More EU Sanctions on Revenue to Burmese Military

By Burma Campaign UK

U.S. Congress Should Support and Pass the Burma Act

By Burma Campaign UK

လူသားချင်းစာနာထောက်ထားမှုဆိုင်ရာ အကူအညီများအတွက် “မည်သူမျှ ထိခိုက်နစ်နာခြင်း မရှိစေရေး” သွေးစည်းညီညွတ်မှု အခြေခံသော ချဉ်းကပ်မှု မြန်မာနိုင်ငံ လိုအပ်

By Human Rights Foundation of Monland, Kachin Women’s Association Thailand, Karen Human Rights Group, Karen Peace Support Network, Karen Women’s Organization, Karenni Civil Society Network, Karenni National Women’s Organization, Pa-O Women’s Union, Progressive Voice and Ta’ang Women’s Organization

တိုက်ပွဲအခြေအနေထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာခြင်း (၂၀၂၁ ခုနှစ်၊ အောက်တိုဘာလ (၄) ရက်နေ့။)

By Karenni Nationalities Defense Force

Response to the briefing by Mr. Andrew Kirkwood, United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i

By National Unity Government

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ၊ ကာကွယ်ရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန၊ ကြေညာချက် အမှတ် (၄/၂၀၂၁)

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Defence)

CDM ပြည်သူ့ရဲတပ်ဖွဲ့ ယာယီအုပ်ချူပ်ရေးကော်မတီ ဖွဲ့စည်းကြောင်း ကြေညာခြင်း – ကြေညာချက်အမှတ် (၄/၂၀၂၁)

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration)

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ ပညာရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန ကြေညာချက်အမှတ်(၃၄/၂၀၂၁) – PGDMA အပတ်စဉ် (၂၀) သင်တန်းဆင်းများနှင့် ပတ်သက်၍ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာခြင်း

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Education)

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ၊ တရားရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန ကြေညာချက်အမှတ် ၅/၂၀၂၁

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Justice)

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ၊သယံဇာတနှင့်သဘာဝပတ်ဝန်းကျင်ထိန်းသိမ်းရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက် (၁၆/၂၀၂၁)

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation)

Press briefing notes on Myanmar

By Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Myanmar: More than 76,000 Children Displaced by Violence since Coup, with Pregnant Women Forced to Give Birth in Forest

By Save the Children

UN on the brink of another failure in Myanmar

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

Burmese Diaspora, Local CSOs Inside Burma, Community-based Organizations, and Civil Society Organizations Sent a Letter to the U.S. Congress to Urgently Support and Pass the BURMA Act

By US Campaign for Burma

Chairman Meeks, Senator Cardin, and Rep. Chabot Introduce BURMA Act

By United States House Foreign Affairs Committee



Violence Committed by the Terrorist Junta in September

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

စက်တင်ဘာလအတွင်း အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်အုပ်စု၏ ကျူးလွန်မှုများ

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

ပြေးစရာ မြေမရှိ – ပို၍နက်ရှိုင်းလာနေသော မြန်မာနိုင်ငံရှိ လူသားချင်စာနာထောက်ထားမှုဆိုင်ရာ အကျပ်အတည်း

By Human Rights Foundation of Monland, Kachin Women’s Association Thailand, Karen Human Rights Group, Karen Peace Support Network, Karen Women’s Organization, Karenni Civil Society Network, Karenni National Women’s Organization, Pa-O Women’s Union, Progressive Voice and Ta’ang Women’s Organization

UNICEF Myanmar Humanitarian Situation Report No. 6: 29 July to 28 September 2021

By UNICEF Myanmar

WFP Myanmar Market Price Update (August 2021)

By World Food Programme

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”