4 January 2022
We, the undersigned civil society organizations of Myanmar and Cambodia, strongly condemn Hun Sen for supporting the criminal military junta in Myanmar and demand an urgent coordinated international response to immediately halt the junta’s campaign of terror.
The Myanmar military junta has been using extreme violence to terrorize the people across the country since its attempted coup on 1 February 2021. The people of Myanmar continue to resist strongly, succeeding at pushing back the military junta who has failed to gain effective control of the country after eleven months. Yet, the junta continues to commit inhumane acts of violence especially in ethnic areas – amounting to crimes against humanity and war crimes.
As of today, 1,398 people have been killed, including at least 100 children and 11,328 people have been illegally detained according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Those in detention face torture, murder, and deprivation of food and water. Women have been raped and gang-raped inside and outside prison. Properties have been robbed and destroyed by junta soldiers. Since February, over 280,000 civilians have been internally displaced. Towns and villages have been burned or blown away by artillery shelling and airstrikes. Medical facilities and medical workers have been attacked. Humanitarian aid has been blocked and destroyed, unable to reach those desperately in need of assistance.
Recently on 24 December 2021, the junta arrested approximately 40 innocent villagers near Moso Village in the western part of Hpruso Township in Karenni State including women and children, put them in vehicles while their hands tied behind their backs and burned them alive. Similar massacres took place at Dontaw Village in Salingyi Township in Sagaing Region on 7 December, where 11 civilians were burned to death. Before this, the junta massacred at least 40 civilians over four different inhumane incidents in Kani Township, Sagaing Region in July.
While the atrocities were being committed in Karenni State, since 15 December, the terrorist junta has started shelling using heavy weaponry at Lay Kay Kaw and surrounding areas in Karen State and later with the use of airstrikes – jets bombing the area indiscriminately. This has displaced more than 10,000 innocent civilians, half of whom fled to Thailand to take refuge. Some Thai villagers also had to relocate, as some houses on the Thai side of the border were destroyed by the Myanmar junta’s artillery shelling.
Speaking at the inauguration of the new Hyatt Regency Hotel in Phnom Penh on 15 December 2021, Hun Sen publicly revealed that his highest priority in 2022 while Cambodia serves as chair of ASEAN is to support the return of Myanmar to fully functioning member of ASEAN under the illegal military junta. Hun Sen plans to visit Myanmar on 7 January 2022, for talks with the leader of the murderous junta, Min Aung Hlaing – a move that would only serve to embolden the military junta to continue their campaign of terror against the people of Myanmar. Hun Sen’s plan to act unilaterally in addressing the multidimensional crisis in Myanmar is utterly insufficient, as Hun Sen should know well from the Cambodian experience. Ending the Khmer Rouge required a concerted international and UN response, it was not left in the hands of only one man.
The escalating violence being committed by the junta against the people of Myanmar amounts to crimes against humanity and war crimes, amidst an ongoing genocide against the Rohingya since 2017. Hun Sen must not condone and applaud such inhumane acts and should know well of the pain and immense suffering of genocide on a nation, given the millions of Cambodian people who were victims and survivors of genocide committed by the tyrannical Khmer Rouge. Hun Sen must not lend legitimacy to the genocidal junta, and he must not forget the suffering of millions of Cambodians who faced genocide.
Hun Sen reiterated that a solution for Myanmar cannot be achieved without negotiating with those who are currently in power, but ultimately power lies with the people of Myanmar who have declared in the strongest terms that they have no desire to see negotiations with this criminal military junta who are committing atrocity crimes.
Hun Sen referenced the Civil Disobedience Movement and the National Unity Government of Myanmar as guerrilla fighters or shadow government. The people of Myanmar hereby declare in the strongest terms that they take the utmost exception to his references and take them as the worst insult possible.
While ASEAN’s decision in October 2021 to exclude junta leader Min Aung Hlaing from the annual regional summit was unprecedented and a step in the right direction, ASEAN must take further decisive steps to resolve the intensifying crisis in Myanmar. The recent incidents of extreme violence in Karen and Karenni States and Sagaing Region clearly show there must be an urgent and stronger coordinated international response. We urge the UN, ASEAN, and international community at large to take concrete actions to end the junta’s campaign of terror against the people and hold them to account through international accountability mechanisms.
The root cause of the crisis in Myanmar is the military junta. It has caused not only immense suffering of the people of Myanmar but has also posed a threat to regional peace and stability. Hun Sen, ASEAN and the international community must realize that the Myanmar military junta has no genuine intention to comply with ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus and that ASEAN alone is ill-equipped to tackle the crisis in Myanmar.
ASEAN must recognize the legitimate government of Myanmar, the National Unity Government, work in coordination with the UN and the NUG and demand the military junta to immediately halt its terror campaign against the people. ASEAN’s credibility is at stake, and it must put effective pressure on the Myanmar military junta to end its relentless violence and support the people of Myanmar in their endeavor to establish a federal democracy.
In addition, ASEAN member states must cut all business ties with the Myanmar military junta and stop all programs and activities that lend legitimacy to the junta as these would be complicit in the junta’s crimes against humanity and war crimes.
ASEAN, as well as the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, that has backed the ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus, must ensure that Hun Sen does not act alone in 2022 – lending legitimacy to the Myanmar military junta and further emboldening them to cause more harm to the people. This would be an insult to the people of Myanmar and Cambodia and further jeopardizing ASEAN’s already-diminishing credibility during the Cambodia tenure as chair of ASEAN in 2022. Human rights violations and atrocity crimes committed by Hun Sen and Min Aung Hlaing must be rectified and democracy and human rights must be restored to the peoples of Cambodia and Myanmar.
The people of Cambodia are in their own tireless struggle for full-fledged democracy and protection of human rights, currenting calling for free and fair elections in 2022. The people of Myanmar stand in solidarity with the people of Cambodia who want to overcome an oppressive authoritarian leader, who routinely denies and violates their human rights. The people of Myanmar categorically reject the terrorist military junta’s announced plan of elections in 2023 – just as they have been defiantly and categorically rejecting its bloody coup attempt for the past eleven months.
The undersigned CSOs from Myanmar declare in the strongest terms that Hun Sen is not welcome in Myanmar and the undersigned Cambodian CSOs declare that Hun Sen’s views are his own and do not represent the will of the Cambodian people.
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