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Request to cancel or refuse to attend ADMM-Plus military training exercises involving the Myanmar military junta

August 15th, 2023  •  Author:   551 Organisations  •  15 minute read
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The Defence Ministers of
Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China,
India, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines,
Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam,


The Defence Ministers of
Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand,
United States

15 August 2023

Subject:  Request to cancel or refuse to attend ADMM-Plus military training exercises involving the Myanmar military junta

Dear Defence Ministers,

We, the undersigned 551 Myanmar regional and international organisations and allies are writing this open letter to urge ASEAN Member State governments to:

  1. cancel the upcoming ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Counter Terrorism (ADMM-Plus EWG) training exercises under the co-chairmanship of the Myanmar military junta and Russia;
  2. exclude Myanmar military junta members from all ADMM-Plus meetings and activities.

If the Myanmar military is not excluded from ADMM-Plus activities, we appeal to ASEAN Member State governments and Dialogue Partners to:

  1. publicly refuse to attend all ADMM-Plus activities with the Myanmar military.

As you know, the ADMM-Plus EWG is currently being co-chaired by the Myanmar military junta and Russia, who are organising a field training exercise in Russia in September and have already held a tabletop exercise in Myanmar in August. The planned training exercise in Russia appears to include a simulation that involves trying to defeat ‘terrorists’ from a border area. This would provide direct support to the Myanmar military junta to improve its capacity to wage war against the people of Myanmar and its attempts to control them by force, while simultaneously also providing support to the Russian military to continue its atrocities against the people of Ukraine. This contradicts the ASEAN Charter, which states adherence to the principles of peaceful settlement of disputes, democracy, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.[i] The fact that ASEAN is providing military support to the Myanmar military junta while the junta is waging a campaign of terror against the people of Myanmar further damages the bloc’s credibility.

We underline the fact that the Myanmar military junta is not, by any definition, a government and therefore has no legitimacy to represent the people of Myanmar in ASEAN or ADMM-Plus meetings and activities. For decades, the Myanmar military has committed international crimes against democratic forces and civilians under the pretext of ‘counter terrorism’. Since the failed coup attempt, the junta has deceitfully and arbitrarily designated the democratically elected National Unity Government (NUG), Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), and the People’s Defence Forces (PDFs) as “terrorists”.[ii] The junta itself, however, meets the criteria for a terrorist organization under both domestic and international law,[iii] and does not have any legitimacy to chair a counter terrorism platform or host counter terrorism exercises.

Over the past 30 months, the military junta has engaged in a campaign of extreme violence against the people of Myanmar. To date, the military has killed 3,897 people and imprisoned 19,740 more.[iv] The military has committed indiscriminate airstrikes, shelling, mass torture, sexual violence and other horrific acts of violence. Their war crimes and crimes against humanity have forced 1.6 million people to flee their homes[v] since the attempted coup began. Thus, it must also be understood that the military junta is not a professional armed force under civilian control that defends the people of Myanmar from external threats.

The junta’s ability to gain and retain power depends on violence, coercion, access to funds, arms and other resources, and importantly, the complicity of international governments. Through ADMM and ADMM-Plus, ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partners are falsely lending legitimacy to the junta’s ‘defence ministry’ and emboldening both the Myanmar junta and Russia to commit further international crimes with blanket impunity.

We welcome the decisions of Australia, New Zealand and the United States to not participate in the recent tabletop training in Myanmar or the upcoming training in Russia.[vi] We also note that Japan, Singapore and South Korea are not present in photographs of the training in Myanmar published by those involved.[vii] [viii] ADMM has also previously excluded the junta’s defence minister, Mya Tun Oo, from participation in ministerial meetings in November 2022.[ix] We call on all ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partners to take responsibility in responding to the crisis in Myanmar by taking the actions described at the beginning of this letter.

On July 28, Defend Myanmar Democracy – a civil society campaign to defend Myanmar people’s right to democratic representation internationally – wrote to ASEAN and ADMM leaders urging them to cancel the counter-terrorism training sessions hosted by the military junta and Russia this year. To date, no response has been received and preparation for the training appears to be continuing. Consequently, we urge you, as the defence ministers of ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partners, to exert your strong influence in support of Myanmar people’s human rights and fundamental safety.

This letter reiterates similar appeals from Myanmar civil society organisations[x] [xi] [xii] and regional parliamentarians[xiii] calling on ASEAN leaders to exclude Myanmar military junta representatives from ASEAN’s meetings at all levels and to take other actions to effectively address the Myanmar crisis, as well as calling on ASEAN Dialogue Partners to boycott ADMM-Plus defence meetings. This request also echoes the concerns raised recently by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Mr Thomas Andrews, in his oral update to the UN Human Rights Council[xiv] and in his statement on his mission to Indonesia[xv]. The Special Rapporteur recommends that ASEAN must not allow Myanmar military junta personnel to participate in any ASEAN meetings, especially defence-related ones. He also calls on ASEAN Member States to: “not attend if the invitations to the junta military personnel are not rescinded.”[xvi]

We look forward to your positive response and hope to see ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partners take immediate action.


This letter is endorsed by 551 organisations representing Myanmar regional and international civil society, including the 298 organisations listed below and 253 organisations which have chosen not to disclose their names below.

List of organisations:

  1. 5/ of Zaya State Strike
  2. 8888 Generation (New Zealand)
  3. Action Against Myanmar Military Coup (AAMMC)
  4. Action Committee for Democracy Development
  5. Action Committee of Basic Education Students (ACBES)
  6. Ah Nah Podcast – Conversations with Myanmar
  7. All Arakan Youth Organization
  8. All Aung Myay Thar San Schools Strike Force
  9. All Burma Democratic Face in New Zealand
  10. All Burma Federation of Student Unions (Monywa District)
  11. All Burma Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance
  12. All Burma Student Democratic Front (ABSDF) – Australia Branch
  13. All Young Burmese League (AYBL)
  14. Alliance of Students’ Union – Yangon (ASU-Yangon)
  15. ALTSEAN-Burma
  16. Anti-coup Forces Coordination Committee (ACFCC -Mandalay)
  17. Anti-Junta Alliance Yangon-AJAY
  18. Anti-Myanmar Military Dictatorship Network (Australia)
  19. Arakan CSO Network
  20. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
  21. ASEAN Regional Coalition to #StopDigitalDictatorship
  22. Asia Democracy Network
  23. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
  24. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
  25. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
  26. Association Suisse – Birmanie
  27. Associazione per l’amicizia Italia Birmania “Giuseppe Malpeli”
  28. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
  29. Auckland Kachin Community NZ
  30. Auckland Zomi Community
  31. Aung San Suu Kyi Park Norway
  32. Australian Karen Organisation (AKO)
  33. Awaz Foundation Pakistan: Centre for Development Services (AwazCDS)
  34. AWDO (Nagphe)
  35. A-Yar-Taw People Strike
  36. Ayeyarwaddy West Development Organisation. AWDO (Magway)
  37. BAHAN Scout & News Channel
  38. Basic Education Branch High School (Maharaungmyay) Students’ Union
  39. Basic Education General Strike Committee (BEGSC)
  40. Basic Education Students & Youths Association (BESYA)
  41. Basic Education Worker Unions – Steering Committee (BEWU-SC)
  42. Bir Duino -Kyrgyzstan
  43. Blood Money Campaign
  44. Botahtaung Scout Channel
  45. Burma Action Ireland
  46. Burma Campaign UK
  47. Burma Civil War Museum (BCM)
  48. Burma Environmental Working Group
  49. Burma Lawyer Council (BLC)
  50. Burmese Community Development Collaboration (BCDC)
  51. Burmese Community Group (Manawatu, NZ)
  52. Burmese Community Support Group (BCSG)
  53. Burmese Medical Association Australia (BMAA)
  54. Burmese Rohingya Welfare Organisation New Zealand
  55. Burmese Women’s Union
  56. CDM Medical Network (CDMMN)
  57. Central European Institute of Asian Studies
  58. Chanmyatharzi Township People’s Strike
  59. Chaung Oo Township Youth Strike Committee
  60. Chin Community in Norway
  61. Chin Community of Auckland
  62. Chindwin (West) Villages Women Strike
  63. Citizen of Burma Award – New Zealand
  64. Civil Information Network (CIN)
  65. Civil Society Organizations Coordination Committee (Monywa)
  66. Coalition Strike Committee – Dawei
  67. Connect {コネクト}
  68. Co-operative University Mandalay Students’ Strike
  69. Creative Home
  70. CRPH Funding Ireland
  71. CRPH Support Group
  72. CRPH, NUG Support Team Germany- Deutschland
  73. Dagon Seikkan News
  74. Daung Sitthe Strike
  75. Dawei (Ashaetaw) Women Strike
  76. Dawei Youths in Japan
  77. Dawei Youths Revolutionary Movement Strike Committee
  78. Defence of Human Rights (Pakistan)
  79. Democracy, Peace and Women’s Organization
  80. Democratic Party for a New Society, Norway
  81. Depayin Township Revolution Steering Committee
  82. Depayin Women Strike
  83. Doh Atu – Ensemble pour le Myanmar
  84. Dragon Dawn
  85. Dunedin Myanmar Community New Zealand
  86. Educational Initiatives Prague
  87. Enemy Air Route Channel
  88. Equality Myanmar
  89. Ethnic Youth General Strike Committee (Mandalay)
  90. Federal Myanmar Benevolence Group (NZ)
  91. Federal Myanmar-Japan
  92. Federation of Workers’ Union of the Burmese Citizen in Japan (FWUBC)
  93. Former Political Prisoners and New Generation Group – Monywa
  94. Free Rohingya Coalition
  95. Freedom and Labor Action Group (FLAG)
  96. Future Light Center
  97. Future Thanlwin
  98. Gangaw Women Strike
  99. General Strike Collaboration Committee (GSCC)
  100. General Strike Committee of Basic and Higher Education (GSCBHE)
  101. General Strike Committee of Nationalities – GSCN
  102. Generation Wave
  103. GenY For Revolution Japan
  104. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution
  105. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution (Japan)
  106. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution (Korea)
  107. Grass-root People
  108. HSC (Hlaing Scout Channel)
  109. Human Rights Educators Network
  110. Human Rights Foundation of Monland
  111. India For Myanmar
  112. Industrial Training Centre (ITC) Family Sydney
  113. Industries Strike
  114. Info Birmanie
  115. Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
  116. Integria, z.u. (Czech Republic)
  117. International Association, Myanmar – Switzerland (IAMS)
  118. International Society of Myanmar Scholars and Professionals (ISMSP)
  119. Japan Myanmar Future Creative Association
  120. Japan Myanmar Help Network – JMHN (comprising over 40 youth groups in Japan)
  121. Justice for Myanmar
  122. Kachin Association Australia (KAA)
  123. Kachin Association Norway
  124. Kachin State Civilian Movement_KSCM
  125. Kachin Student Union
  126. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
  127. Kalay Township Strike Force
  128. Kalay Women Strike
  129. Kamayut Information – KMYINFO/ Kamayut Information Scout Channel – KISC
  130. Karen Human Rights Group
  131. Karen Peace Support Network
  132. Karen Swedish Community (KSC)
  133. Karen Women’s Organization
  134. Karenni Association – Norway
  135. Karenni Civil Society Network
  136. Karenni National Women’s Organization
  137. Karenni Society New Zealand
  138. Karnali Integrated Rural Development and Research Centre
  139. Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law
  140. K’cho Ethnic Association
  141. Keng Tung Youth
  142. Kyain Seikgyi Spring Revolution Leading Committee
  143. Kyauktada Strike Committee
  144. Latha/Lanmadaw Scout Channel
  145. Latpadaung Region Strike Committee
  146. LGBT Alliance
  147. LGBT Alliance Myanmar (Kalay Region)
  148. LGBT Alliance Myanmar (Kyaukse Region)
  149. LGBT Community Yangon
  150. LGBT Union – Mandalay
  151. Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA), Bangladesh
  152. MAGGA Initiative
  153. Magway People’s Revolution Committee
  154. Maharaungmyay Township People’s Strike
  155. Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN)
  156. Mandalar University Students’ Strike
  157. Mandalay Alliance Coalition Strike
  158. Mandalay Medical Family (MFM)
  159. Mandalay Strike Force (MSF)
  160. Mandalay Women Strike
  161. Mandalay Youth Strike
  162. Mandalay-based People’s Strike
  163. Mandalay-Based University Students’ Unions (MDY_SUs)
  164. Manushya Foundation
  165. Matu Chin Community – NSW/UPU Chin Association
  166. MayMyo Strike Force
  167. Metta Campaign
  168. Min Hla farmers Group
  169. Minbu farmers Group
  170. Mindat Chin Community NSW
  171. Mon National Council (MNC)
  172. Mon Youth For Federal Democracy
  173. Monywa LGBT Strike
  174. Monywa People’s Strike Steering Committee
  175. Monywa Women Strike
  176. Monywa-Amyint Road Strike Leading Committee
  177. Monywa-Amyint Road Women Strike
  178. Multi-Religions Strike
  179. Muslim Youth Network
  180. Mya Taung Strike
  181. Myanmar Action Group Denmark
  182. Myanmar Campaign Network
  183. Myanmar Catholic Community in Norway
  184. Myanmar Community Christchurch New Zealand
  185. Myanmar Community Coffs Harbour (MCC)
  186. Myanmar Community in Norway
  187. Myanmar Cultural Research Society (MCRS)
  188. Myanmar Diaspora Group Finland
  189. Myanmar Engineers – New Zealand
  190. Myanmar Global Support Foundation (MGSF)
  191. Myanmar Gonye (New Zealand)
  192. Myanmar Hindu Community – Norway
  193. Myanmar Institute of Information Technology Students’ Strike
  194. Myanmar Labor Alliance (MLA)
  195. Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)
  196. Myanmar Refugee Policy Group (MRPG)
  197. Myanmar Students’ Union in New Zealand
  198. Myanmar Teachers’ Federation
  199. Myaung Youth Network
  200. Myingyan Civillian Movement Committee
  201. National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Pakistan
  202. National League for Democracy (Monywa Township)
  203. Nelson Myanmar Community New Zealand
  204. Netherlands Myanmar Solidarity Platform
  205. Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma (ND-Burma)
  206. Network of University Student Unions – Monywa
  207. New Zealand Doctors for NUG
  208. New Zealand Karen Association
  209. New Zealand Zo Community Inc.
  210. NLD Organization Committee (International) Norway
  211. NLD Solidarity Association (NSW chapter)
  212. Norway Falam Community
  213. Norway Matu Community
  214. Norway Rvwang Community
  215. NRFF – New Rehmonnya Federated Force
  216. NSW Karenni (Kayah) Communities
  217. NUG and CRPH Supporters Ireland
  218. Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica
  219. Overseas Mon Association. New Zealand
  220. Padauk Finland-Myanmar Association
  221. Pale Township People’s Strike Steering Committee
  222. PAZUNDAUNG Tsp [Scout & News]
  223. People’s Hope Spring Revolution
  224. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)
  225. Perhimpunan Bantuan Hukum dań Hak Asasi Mamusia Indonesia (PBHI) / Indonesia Legal Aid and Human Rights Association
  226. Progressive Voice
  227. Psychological Responsiveness NGO, Mongolia
  228. Public Association “Dignity”
  229. Pwintphyu Development Organisation
  230. Pyi Gyi Tagon Strike Force
  231. Representative Committee of University Teacher Associations (RC of UTAs)
  232. Research Center (KIRDARC) Nepal
  233. Rohingya Action Ireland
  234. Rohingya Community in Norway
  235. Rvwang Community Association New Zealand
  236. Samgha Sammaga-Mandalay
  237. Sanchaung Scout Channel
  238. Save and Care Organization for Women at Border Areas
  239. Save Myanmar Fundraising Group (New Zealand)
  240. Seinpann Strike
  241. Shan Communities Network
  242. Shan Community (New Zealand)
  243. Shan MATA
  244. Shizuyouth For Myanmar
  245. Shwe Pan Kone People’s Strike Steering Committee
  246. Sitt Nyein Pann Foundation
  247. South Okkala Area Channel
  248. Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet)
  249. Southern Dragon Myanmar
  250. Southern Youth Development Organization
  251. Spring Friends
  252. Swedish Burma Committee
  253. Sydney Friends For Myanmar Unity
  254. Ta’ang Women’s Organization
  255. Tanintharyi MATA
  256. Tanintharyi Nationalities Congress – TNC
  257. Taze Strike Commitee
  258. Taze Women Strike
  259. Tenasserim Student Union’s Network -TSUN
  260. TGK Bulletin Channel
  261. Thakhin Kodaw Mhine Peace Network (Monywa)
  262. Thayat Chaung Women Strike
  263. The 88 Generation Peace and Open Society (Monywa)
  264. The Korean Civil Society in Support of Democracy in Myanmar (106 CSOs)
  265. Think Centre (Singapore)
  266. Thint Myat Lo Thu Myar Organization
  267. Twitter Team for Revolution (TTFR)
  268. U.S. Campaign for Burma
  269. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  270. Universities Kachin Literature and Culture Association- Yangon
  271. University Students’ Unions Alumni Force
  272. Voice For Justice
  273. Volunteers in Myanmar
  274. We For All
  275. We Pledge CDM (Australia)
  276. Wellington Chin Community (New Zealand)
  277. Wetlet Revolution Leading Committee
  278. Wetlet Twonship Women Strike
  279. White Coat Society Yangon (WCSY)
  280. Women Activists Myanmar
  281. Women Alliance Burma (WAB)
  282. Women’s League of Burma
  283. WOREC, Nepal
  284. Yadanabon University Students’ Union (YDNBUSU)
  285. Yangon Women Strike
  286. Yasakyo Township People`s Strike Steering Committee
  287. Yaw Funding Japan
  288. Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (YLBHI) / Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation
  289. Yinmarpin and Salingyi All Villages Strike Committee
  290. Yokohama Pamphlet Campaign – Myanmar
  291. Youth for Democratization of Myanmar (UDM)
  292. Youth Heart Beams
  293. Zomi Association Australia Inc.
  294. Zomi Christian Fellowship of Norway
  295. Zomi Community Norway
  296. ဒို့မြေကွန်ရက် – LIOH
  297. ဒီမိုကရက်တစ်လူငယ်ကောင်စီ
  298. ပွင့်ဖြူလယ်ယာမြေကွန်ရက်

This letter is addressed to the following Defence Ministers:

  • His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ’Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Prime Minister / Minister of Defence / Minister of Finance and Economy / Minister of Foreign Affairs, Brunei Darussalam
  • General Samdech Pichey Sena Tea Banh, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of National Defence, Cambodia
  • H.E. General Li Shangfu, State Councilor and Minister of National Defence, China
  • H.E. Shri Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence, Republic of India
  • H.E. Hamada Yasukazu, Minister of Defence, Japan
  • H.E. Gen. Chansamone Chanyalath, Minister of Defence, Laos
  • The Hon. Dato’ Seri Utama Haji Mohamad bin Haji Hasan, Minister of Defence, Malaysia
  • Atty. Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr., The Honorable Secretary of National Defense, Philippines
  • H.E. Lee Jong-sup, Minister of National Defense, Republic of Korea
  • H.E. Dr. Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence, Singapore
  • H.E. Gen. (Ret.) Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister / Minister of Defence, Thailand
  • H.E. Gen. Phan Văn Giang, Minister of National Defence, Vietnam

Copies of this letter have also been sent to the following Defence Ministers:

  • H.E. Lieutenant General (Ret.) Prabowo Subianto, Chairman of ADMM & ADMM-Plus / Minister of Defence, Indonesia
  • The Hon. Richard Marles MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Australia
  • Hon. Andrew Little, Minister of Defence, New Zealand
  • Hon. Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense, United States

[i] Association of South East Asian Nations, The ASEAN Charter, 2008,

[ii] Sebastian Strango, ‘Myanmar Junta Labels Shadow Government ‘Terrorists’’, The Diplomat, 10 May 2021,

[iii] Special Advisory Council Myanmar, Briefing Paper: The Myanmar Military is a Terrorist Organization Under Law, 14 December 2021,

[iv] Assistance Association For Political Prisoners (Burma), Daily briefing, 7 August 2023,

[v] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Myanmar Humanitarian Update No. 31, 15 July 2023,*m6gzo1*_ga*NzAzODY5MTY2LjE2NzcxMzUxMzA.*_ga_E60ZNX2F68*MTY4OTgxNzE3OS4xMi4wLjE2ODk4MTcxNzkuNjAuMC4w

[vi] Myanmar Now, ‘Russia and Myanmar junta to host ASEAN counter-terrorism exercises despite boycott by dialogue partners’, Myanmar Now, 22 June 2023,

[vii] Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, ‘Counter-terrorism drills with the participation of ASEAN member countries and Dialogue Partners (ADMM plus) began in Myanmar’, 3 August 2023,

[viii] Global New Light of Myanmar, ‘Successful conclusion of ADMM-Plus Counter-Terrorism tabletop exercise bolstering regional security’, 5 August 2023,

[ix] Tan Hui Lee, ‘Myanmar junta snubbed at Asean defence chiefs’ meet’, Straits Times, 23 November 2022,

[x] Progressive Voice, Forum Asia & ALTSEAN, ‘ASEAN must stop enabling Myanmar junta’s atrocities’ [statement], 16 May 2023,

[xi] Progressive Voice & Forum Asia, ‘Myanmar: ASEAN leaders must take decisive steps, stop aiding and abetting junta’s atrocity crimes’ [press release], 9 November 2022,

[xii] 448 Myanmar regional and international organizations, ‘United States: Open letter to ADMM dialogue partner’ [open letter], 14 July 2022,

[xiii] ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, ‘ASEAN must exclude Myanmar junta from all joint military exercises, Southeast Asian MPs say’ [statement], 28 July 2023,

[xiv] Thomas Andrews, Oral update to the United Nations Human Rights Council – 53nd Session, 6 July 2023,

[xv] Thomas Andrews, End of Mission Statement, 21 June 2023,

[xvi] Thomas Andrews, End of Mission Statement, 21 June 2023,

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