ASEAN is ‘Kicking the Can Down the Road’

August 8th, 2022  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  10 minute read
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“In not setting clear deterrents for the military junta’s violence, ASEAN is ‘kicking the can down the road’ and enabling it to continue their terror campaign against the people of Myanmar.”

The after effects of the summary executions of democracy activists Phyo Zayar Thaw, Kyaw Min Yu (Ko Jimmy), Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw by the Myanmar military junta on the weekend of 23 and 24 July 2022 continue to be widely felt. Myanmar’s Spring Revolution forces inside and outside Myanmar held a series of protests and public oath ceremony reaffirming their pledge to topple the military junta. Yet, the general reaction from the international community has been to issue statements, many of which use the same predictable rhetoric and outrage, expressing ‘deep concerns’, ‘strongly disappointed’ and ‘strongly condemn’. Using recent history as a guide, these responses will not yield a meaningful shift to the lives of those on the ground, nor will it end the junta’s terrorism and bring about democratic change.

The executions represent a new low for the junta’s depravity, but this is by no means out of character for junta leader, Min Aung Hlaing. Since the coup attempt on 1 February 2021, this military junta has consistently committed extrajudicial killings, execution-style killings and other war crimes and crimes against humanity against civilians with complete impunity. Additionally, in previous decades, this military has perpetrated genocide against the Rohingya in 2017 and countless war crimes and crimes against humanity against ethnic communities. Importantly, the junta deliberately selected these four men, and attempted to use the levers of the judiciary as a guise of ‘fair trial’ and in accordance with the ‘rule of law’ to create a façade of legitimacy, when in fact these act could amount to a war crime or crimes against humanity according to the UN-established Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar.

Courageously, protesters took to the markets and streets to show their defiance and condemnation of the unlawful killing of the four men executed, determined to resist and continue moving the revolution forward. The friends and families of 77 prisoners on death row, and 42 prisoners sentenced to death in absentia, are fearful the junta is poised to conduct further executions – that is, inaction from the international community will spur the junta into continuing to execute civilians. Friends and family are also fearful for their own safety, as pro-military thugs have been attacking the homes of Ko Jimmy and Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw, throwing objects at their houses.

Meanwhile, ASEAN has made it clear that there will be no meaningful consequences for the executions, beyond issuing a statement, despite ASEAN’s current Chair, Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, pleading with Min Aung Hlaing to cease the executions. Since the Five Point Consensus was devised by the ASEAN leaders 15 months ago on 24 April, 2021, the military junta has not acted in good faith, utterly failing to comply with all five points. ASEAN’s only concrete and punitive response has been to ban the Myanmar military – Min Aung Hlaing – from the ASEAN Ministers Meeting (AMM) in 2021 and 2022. While the joint communique of the AMM acknowledged the limited progress and lack of commitment by the junta, in further delaying action by offering the junta three more months to implement the Five-Point Consensus, ASEAN is allowing the military to continue to commit atrocity crimes. In not setting clear deterrents for the military junta’s violence, ASEAN is ‘kicking the can down the road’ and enabling it to continue their terror campaign against the people of Myanmar.

The Five Point Consensus is also blocking concrete coordinated and effective actions from the international community. The international community has not stepped up to call out these failings, rather they have continuously deflected responsibility for the Myanmar crisis onto ASEAN. ASEAN and the international community must listen to Myanmar civil society and move beyond the Five Point Consensus, in consultation and partnership with the National Unity Government, Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations and civil society.

In a promising move that reflects these consistent calls from various parts of Myanmar, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister, Saifuddin Abdullah and the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar, Noeleen Hayzer held a joint press conference, critical of the Five Point Consensus. Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah has acknowledged that the junta is “making a mockery” of the Five Point Consensus and expressed that the executions were a “crime against humanity”. However, ASEAN as a bloc must be unified in their response to the executions, dispensing with their policy of non-interference.

Meanwhile atrocities on the ground continue. Just last week in Demoso, Karenni State, the junta killed a father and his 14-year-old daughter after shelling an internally displaced person (IDP) camp, as well as injuring four others. This is at least the 10th such attack on IDP camps in Karenni State since the attempted coup, according to Karenni Human Rights Group. In another horrific incident, the charred remains of at least 12 people burned alive by junta were found in Kyi Su, Kanbalu Township, Sagaing Region, after junta helicopter gunships and ground troops attacked villages surrounding Kyi Su. While these incidents may not grab international headlines as the executions have, the international community, including ASEAN, must focus on ending all inhumane acts committed by the junta. More direct and meaningful actions to bring an end to the military junta’s terror campaign, and foster a genuine federal democracy, are urgently needed. This should include, but is not limited to, targeted sanctions on military leaders, military businesses and military-linked cronies. Additionally, a global arms embargo, sanctions on the supply of jet fuel to the junta and cutting all legitimacy to the junta – which must include sanctions by the US government on Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprises as called for by US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senators. Overall, the international community must stand with the Spring Revolution, and the people’s desire for a genuine federal democracy – not just through words but through actions.


[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 from Myanmar People to Civil Society Organizations and Political Parties of India

By 183 Civil Society Organizations and Individuals

Myanmar: Execution of Four Democracy Activists Highlights Junta’s Brutality

By 15 Civil Society Organizations

Myanmar: Junta Reaches A New Low With Shocking Executions

By ALTSEAN-Burma and  International Federation for Human Rights

Myanmar: First Executions in Decades Mark Atrocious Escalation in State Repression

By Amnesty International

AAPP Statement on the 25th of July Extrajudicial Executions

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

Southeast Asian MPs Condemn Barbaric Executions of Four Political Prisoners in Myanmar

By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

ASEAN Chairman’s Statement on the Execution of Four Opposition Activists in Myanmar

By ASEAN (Cambodia)

Burma Military Executes Four Activists: UK Must Expel Burmese Military Attaché

By Burma Campaign UK

၂၀၂၀ ရွေးကောက်ခံလွှတ်တော်ကိုယ်စားလှယ်များကို အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်တပ်က မတရား ဖမ်းဆီးပြီး ဥပဒေပုဒ်မ မျိုးစုံတပ်ခြင်းနှင့် စစ်ကြောရေးတွင် လူမဆန်စွာရက်စက်ညှင်းပမ်း နှိပ်စက် ခြင်းကြောင့် သေဆုံးသွားရသူများ၏ လူ့အခွင့်အရေးချိုးဖောက်ခံရနေမှုများနှင့်စပ်လျဉ်း၍ ထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw

ကိုကျော်မင်းယု၊ ကိုဖြိုးဇေယျာသော်၊ ကိုလှမျိုးအောင်နှင့် ကိုအောင်သူရဇော်တို့အပေါ် အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်ကောင်စီက သေဒဏ်စီရင်ခဲ့မှုနှင့် စပ်လျဉ်း၍ ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw

Myanmar/Burma: Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the Execution of Pro-Democracy and Opposition Leaders in Myanmar/Burma

By Council of the European Union

Execution of Pro-Democracy and Opposition Leaders in Myanmar

By European Union, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom and United States

Extrajudicial Killings of Dissidents a War Crime with Serious Chilling Effect

By Free Expression Myanmar

G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Myanmar Military Junta’s Executions

By G7 Foreign Ministers and the European Union

စစ်အာဏာရှင်စနစ် တိုက်ဖျက်ရေး အထွေထွေသပိတ်ကော်မတီ – ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By General Strike Committee

A Statement of the GSCB regarding the the military’s confession of unlawful killings of Ko Jimmy (aka Ko Kyaw Min Yu), Ko Phyo Zeyar Thaw, Ko Hla Myo Aung and Ko Thura Zaw

By General Strike Coordination Body

Myanmar Junta Executes Four

By Human Rights Watch

Statement by India For Myanmar on Executions Carried Out by the Terrorist Fascist Junta

By India For Myanmar

Statement on the Executions of Ko Jimmy, Phyo Zeya Thaw, Hla Myo Aung, and Aung Thura Zaw

By Milk Tea Alliance

Burma/Myanmar – France Strongly Condemns the Execution of Four Political Prisoners

By Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Regarding Executions of Myanmar Citizens including Pro-democracy Activists (Statement by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa)

By Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

National Unity Government Statement (17/2022)

By National Unity Government of Myanmar

ဖက်ဒရယ်ဒီမိုကရေစီအင်အားစုများ၏ တော်လှန်ရေး သန္နိဌာန် ကြေညာချက်

By National Unity Government of Myanmar, Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, Karen National Union, Karenni National Progressive Party, Chin National Front, National League for Democracy and All Burma Students’ Democratic Front

Latest Report by the Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma Finds Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes Perpetrated by the Myanmar Junta

By Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma

New Zealand Condemns Myanmar Executions

By New Zealand Government

Myanmar: Bachelet Condemns Executions, Calls for Release of All Political Prisoners

By Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

UN Special Rapporteurs Appeal for Strong International Response in the Wake of ‘Devastating’ Executions by Myanmar Junta

By Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Open Society Foundations Condemn Horrific Myanmar Executions

By Open Society Foundations

Progressive Voice Condemns Execution of Myanmar Democracy Activists, Calls for Urgent International Action

By Progressive Voice

UN and ASEAN Must Respond to Junta’s Summary Executions

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

(၈၈)မျိုးဆက်ကျောင်းသားခေါင်းဆောင် ကိုဂျင်မီ၊ လွှတ်တော်အမတ်ဟောင်း ကိုဇေယျာသော်၊ ကိုလှမျိုးအောင်နှင့် ကိုအောင်သူရဇော်တို့ ရဲဘော်(၄)ဦးအား ဖက်ဆစ်စစ်ကောင်စီမှ မတရားကြိုးပေးစီရင်သည့်အပေါ် ကျောင်းသားသမဂ္ဂများမှ သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Student Union Representatives Committee

နစက မှ နိုင်ငံရေးအမြင်မတူသည့် ပုဂ္ဂိုလ် (၄) ဦးအား သေဒဏ်စီရင်ဆောင်ရွက်လိုက်ခြင်း အပေါ် ညီနောင်မဟာမိတ် (၃) ဖွဲ့၏ ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By Three Brotherhood Alliance

ရက္ခိုင်အမျိုးသားအဖွဲ့ချုပ် – ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By United League of Arakan (Arakan Army)

Secretary-General Strongly Condemns Executions by Myanmar Military against Political Activists

By United Nations

UN Special Envoy Heyzer Calls for Inclusive Engagement and Innovative Solutions for Rohingya During Mission to Malaysia

By United Nations

မတရား သေဒဏ် စီရင်ခြင်းအပေါ် သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန် ကြေညာချက်

By United Nationalities Alliance

Security Council Press Statement on Situation in Myanmar

By United Nations Security Council

USCB Condemns the Executions of Kyaw Min Yu, Phyo Zeya Thaw, Aung Thura Zaw, and Hla Myo Aung

By U.S. Campaign for Burma

Execution of Burma’s Pro-Democracy Leaders

By U.S. Department of State

Burma’s Military Regime Executes Pro-Democracy Leaders

By United States Agency for International Development



Resisting A Coup

By Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma

Over 100 Houses Burned, 4,000 Displaced by SAC Scorched Earth Operation East of Moebye Lake, Southern Shan State

By Shan Human Rights Foundation

Myanmar Humanitarian Update No. 20 | 31 July 2022

By United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

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.”