It is a matter of grave importance and critical urgency that the CSO Coalition (ALTSEAN-BURMA, Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), AJAR, CIVICUS, KontraS, Forum Asia) today, reiterate our strongest condemnation against the illegitimate military junta of Myanmar.
The international community, particularly the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), must hold the junta accountable for its casual disregard for genuine democracy and continuing violation of human rights as part of its crackdown on dissent after illegally seizing state power from the democratically elected civilian government in February 2021.
As Indonesia assumes the rotating chair of ASEAN this year, we take this ‘Burma-Indonesia Advocacy Road’ with the visit of Rohingya Women Activist Yasmin Ullah as an opportunity to call on the Indonesian government, particularly President Joko Widodo, to take the lead in the regional bloc to craft a credible response to amplify the demands of the peoples of Myanmar for the immediate return to democracy, including investigation of crimes against humanity being committed on a regular basis by the military junta since the coup two years ago.
We believe that the much-touted 2021 Five-Point Consensus of ASEAN on Myanmar has not significantly achieved anything and has been used and abused by the coup cabal to further consolidate its political and economic control. Debbie Stothard, of ALTSEAN-BURMA further added in the media briefing today, “The Myanmar crisis is an issue for Indonesia – especially when it comes to Indonesia’s ASEAN Chairmanship this year. ASEAN needs to set the example, as the decades-long non-interference policy is not a testament of leadership.”
A critical first step to re-install democracy, peace, and rule of law in Myanmar, should begin with ASEAN formally recognizing Myanmar’s National Unity Government (Myanmar-NUG) as the legitimate government composed of democratically elected representatives of Myanmar.
We urge the ASEAN chair Indonesia to rally other ASEAN member states to devise a much more robust collaboration roadmap with concrete achievable indicators to resolve the Myanmar crisis and refuse to provide any formal ASEAN spaces for the coup plotters in Myanmar.
We would like to remind ASEAN that its policy of constructive engagement and non-interference is not a workable strategy in resolving the Myanmar crisis and has been used, for decades, by previous military governments in Myanmar to shield itself from international criticism.
Now is the time for ASEAN to apply relentless pressure against the junta to exact accountability over continued human rights violations ranging from killings, arbitrary arrests and detention of activists, and use of rape as a weapon of war and other gender-based violence.
We also call on Indonesia and ASEAN to exert extra efforts to prioritize immediate dialogue in seeking a sustainable solution to address the continuous human rights violations against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in Myanmar. ASEAN must take concrete actions to protect the Rohingya refugees, especially those who are living in camps along the Myanmar border as well as in other ASEAN countries, including in Aceh, Indonesia. The visit of Rohingya Women Activist Yasmin Ullah, and our colleagues from Geutanyoe Foundation and KontraS Aceh, seeks to address the grave condition of Rohingya Refugees that has been happening for decades.
Yasmin asserted that, “the Rohingyas are further marginalized now than ever, with the structural and cultural violence we have endured transpired into genocidal campaign. We rely on our partners and civil society fellows to help us assert our rights back into the Myanmar political landscape.” We urge ASEAN to heed the demands for all member-states of ASEAN to open their borders and proactively accept and provide shelter and assistance to fleeing refugees from Rakhine State and other ethnic nationalities in Myanmar and respect the fundamental principle of non-refoulment, in accordance with international law.
We reassert our position that ASEAN must address the root causes of the issue and bring into focus the structural-legal discrimination against the Rohingya people and other ethnic minorities.
Moreover, we challenge Indonesia and ASEAN to denounce the military junta’s attempt to secure legitimacy through ‘sham elections’ this year. This sham election is designed by Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, with his cohorts of military murderers, to divide the resistance and democracy movement and to deceive the international community further.
ASEAN must know by now that silence in the face of injustice in Myanmar is complicity with its military oppressors. With utmost urgency, we urge ASEAN to take more definite and decisive actions against the military junta as all legal remedies and democratic avenues have failed.
Today, in the spirit of solidarity, we stand united with the people of Myanmar in their struggle for genuine democracy, peace, and social justice. ###
Debbie Stothard (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Safina Maulida (email@example.com)