One year ago, on 8 November 2020, the people of Myanmar cast their ballots in large numbers in the country’s general elections. Their choice was clear and their aspirations for democracy explicit. The elections were an important milestone in Myanmar’s democratic transition and were confirmed as transparent by all independent domestic and international observers. The military coup on 1 February 2021 forcibly overthrew the civilian government in blatant violation of the will of the people, with disastrous humanitarian, social, economic and human rights consequences. The announcement to extend the state of emergency until August 2023 under the guise of a “caretaker government” can in no way grant legitimacy to the military regime. The European Union strongly condemns the grave human rights violations by the Myanmar armed forces since then.
The current military build-up in the central and northwestern part of the country, including the Sagaing and Magway regions, and the resulting escalation of violence particularly in Chin State, are of deep concern. The European Union condemns in the strongest terms the attacks by the Myanmar military on civilians and villages in Chin State, including the use of torture, sexual violence, arbitrary detention and the destruction of private property and religious sites, which are blatant violations of human rights and international law and call for justice and accountability. The European Union reiterates its calls for an immediate cessation of all hostilities and the disproportionate use of force witnessed in recent days. The military authorities must ensure rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all displaced persons and people in need, in all parts of the country. The European Union will continue to provide humanitarian assistance, in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence and is deeply concerned by the combined effects of the conflict, food insecurity and COVID-19 on the population.
The escalation of violence led by the Myanmar armed forces also runs counter to the commitments made at the ASEAN Leaders’ Summit in April, setting out the “Five Point Consensus”. The European Union continues to call for its immediate and full implementation. The European Union further calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those arbitrarily detained in connection with the coup, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
The European Union welcomes the appointment of Noeleen Heyzer as the Special Envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations on Myanmar and welcomes continued close collaboration with the United Nations. The European Union also reiterates its full support for the approach and efforts of ASEAN and the ASEAN Chair’s Special Envoy, Erywan Yusof, Foreign Minister II of Brunei Darussalam, to engage in a meaningful and inclusive process of dialogue involving all relevant parties in the country, including the National Unity Government and the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. The European Union underlines that a meaningful political dialogue must include full, equal and meaningful participation of women, youth and ethnic groups.
The European Union welcomes the actions taken by ASEAN in view of its recent summit. The European Union looks forward to engaging closely with Cambodia as the Chair of ASEAN for 2022 and as the chair of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) on 24-26 November 2021. The European Union will continue to support ASEAN’s efforts to ensure a peaceful resolution of the current crisis that will ensure the country’s swift return to a democratic path.