Human rights groups call for bold ASEAN, UNSC action on Myanmar crisis

July 17th, 2023  •  Author:   The Online Citizen  •  3 minute read
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Escalating violence in junta-ruled Myanmar has dominated the three-day meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the Indonesian island of Flores (Source: Joko Widodo’s Facebook page).

YANGON, MYANMAR — In a bold call for action, the Progressive Voice (PV), Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma), and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) jointly implored ASEAN and the UN Security Council (UNSC) to strengthen their efforts against the Myanmar military junta’s atrocity crimes.

In its statement on Monday (17 Jul), the trio of organisations criticised the current ASEAN Five-Point Consensus (5PC), describing it as “disappointingly ineffective and unenforceable” in a statement released today. They argue that more decisive action is needed and demand a comprehensive review of the 5PC ahead of the ASEAN Summit in September.

The groups insist that the 5PC review should prioritise halting the illegal junta’s crimes and threats to human security. They further advocate excluding the junta from all meetings, fearing that their participation might lend false legitimacy to their operations and risk complicity in their atrocities. Instead, they argue that the National Unity Government (NUG), being the legitimate representation of the Myanmar people, should be included at regional and international stages.

The joint statement emphasizes the need for a reconstruction of the 5PC and ASEAN’s overall approach, suggesting it should be based on the civil society’s Five Counter Points. It also presses for a more meaningful inclusion of Myanmar’s legitimate stakeholders, such as the NUG and Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations (EROs), in all engagements.

The statement further condemns the junta’s attempt to forcibly repatriate 7,000 Rohingyas and urges ASEAN to redirect humanitarian aid away from the junta and towards local civil society, community-based organisations, and local humanitarian responders.

Khin Ohmar, Founder and Chairperson of Progressive Voice, voiced concern over the implementation of the 5PC without consent from the Myanmar people. She called for ASEAN to uphold democratic principles, include legitimate representatives of Myanmar and the Spring Revolution, and to take a more assertive approach in ceasing the junta’s atrocity crimes.

Debbie Stothard, Founder and Coordinator of ALTSEAN-Burma, urged the UN Security Council to impose a global arms embargo and targeted economic sanctions to counter the severity of atrocities in Myanmar and the threat the junta poses to regional peace and stability.

Mary Aileen Diez-Bacalso, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA, echoed the calls for a review of the 5PC and emphasized the necessity of ASEAN working cohesively with the NUG and the international community. She warned that failing to respond robustly and meaningfully would render ASEAN irrelevant to the struggle of the Myanmar people.

With the situation in Myanmar remaining unstable, the eyes of the world are on ASEAN and the UNSC to see how they respond to this clarion call for change and justice.

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