12 April 2022: Australian, Indian and Saudi Arabian Ambassadors should be deeply ashamed of holding meetings with the leader of the illegal military junta in Myanmar while his forces beat civilians to death, burned villages to the ground and abducted children, says the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M).
The people of Myanmar have been resisting a violent attempt by the Myanmar military to seize power over their country since it launched a coup in February 2021. Civil disobedience, strikes, protests and armed resistance prevented the coup from succeeding, while vast areas of the country are under the territorial and administrative control of groups that recognise the authority of the legitimate National Unity Government of Myanmar.
Despite this, Ambassadors to Myanmar, including the Australian and Indian Ambassadors, prematurely held meetings with the leader of the junta, Min Aung Hlaing. The official engagements were used as propaganda by the junta leader in his ongoing attempt to gain domestic legitimacy. India, Australia and Saudi Arabia have resisted calls to impose personal sanctions on Min Aung Hlaing and other junta leaders like those imposed by the UK, US, EU and Canada. The members of SAC-M have been calling for Min Aung Hlaing to be prosecuted for genocide since 2018.
“The Myanmar people are engaged in an all-out struggle to defend themselves and their democracy from an internal occupying force that is intent on forcing them to succumb to authoritarianism,” said Yanghee Lee of SAC-M. “Foreign Ambassadors and other government representatives that choose to meet with the leader of that occupying force as if he is leader of Myanmar, might as well turn their backs on the Myanmar people altogether.”
Untold sacrifices have been made by the Myanmar people in their struggle. Thousands have been murdered and almost half a million people displaced as junta forces continue to wage a brutal campaign of terror involving mass murder, torture, arson, sexual and gender-based violence, enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention.
The junta continues to launch devastating airstrikes on civilian targets including displacement camps, schools, hospitals and places of worship while on the ground its troops commit regular massacres of unarmed civilians that have included the burning alive of children.
“The junta is waging a war against the people. The atrocities are not side effects of the conflict but part of a deliberate assault on the population,” said Marzuki Darusman of SAC-M. “If the world truly stands for the rule of law, the principles of humanity and the fundamental right of all peoples to determine their own future, then equal action must be taken to defend those values wherever they are under threat – not hypocritical complicity with the very villains that would seek to stamp them out.”
The National Unity Government should be recognised as the legitimate government of Myanmar, according to internationally accepted criteria. SAC-M is calling for the international community to recognise the National Unity Government and work with it to end the crisis in Myanmar, to cut the supply of arms and cash to the illegal military junta and to refer the situation in Myanmar to International Criminal Court.
“The people of Myanmar will succeed in this fight for their country and their freedom,” said Chris Sidoti of SAC-M. “The question is, how will history judge the rest of the world when the records of these years are written?”