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Monday, April 26, 2021

Chance for Asean to stop Myanmar military rulers

NEWSTRAITSTIMES

April 24, 2021

This handout photo taken and released by Dawei Watch on April 23, shows protesters holding signs calling for the arrest of Myanmar armed forces chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing during a demonstration against the military coup in Dawei. -AFP pic/Dawei Watch

LETTER: Southeast Asian leaders must unite to push the Myanmar junta to end horrific abuses against ordinary people and ensure it does not recognise the military as the country's legitimate rulers.

Asean is holding a Special Summit on Myanmar in Jakarta, today, to discuss the crisis brought about by the Tatmadaw's (military) coup in February. Junta leader and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who stands credibly accused of being one of the chief architects of the genocide against the Rohingya, is expected to attend the meeting.

"This Summit is Asean's last chance to prove that it can end a crisis in its own neighbourhood. While the diplomatic efforts of countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore are commendable, it is a stain on the region as a whole that others continue to defend the Tatmadaw.

Southeast Asian leaders must stand united and condemn Myanmar's military for the brutal violence it has unleashed against its own people since the coup.

It is also a travesty that Min Aung Hlaing has been invited to attend while the National Unity Government has been shunned. This is someone who the United Nations and others have accused of genocide. He should face a courtroom for his crimes – not be given the red-carpet treatment.

The coup by the Tatmadaw on February 1 has pushed Myanmar towards state collapse in less than three months. Security forces have killed more than 700 people, including dozens of children, while thousands of others have been arbitrarily arrested.

The country is facing a looming humanitarian crisis as basic services have ground to a halt. Thousands of people have fled into neighbouring India and Thailand, partly because the Tatmadaw has renewed offences against ethnic armed groups in border regions.

Asean has been divided it in its response to the military takeover. Some countries, notably Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, have condemned the Tatmadaw, but others have pointed to Asean's "non-interference principle" as a reason not to get involved.

The Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) reminds Southeast Asian leaders that the Asean Charter commits all Member States to respect human rights and democracy. The bloc must take firm action against the Tatmadaw, including by imposing an arms embargo against Myanmar and individual sanctions on senior military leaders.

Asean should also immediately suspend Myanmar's membership as long as the military remain in power, and publicly announce its support for international justice efforts against the military, including at the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.

Asean's failure to respond to the coup reflects the bloc's complete lack of action in 2016 and 2017, when the Myanmar military killed thousands of Rohingya in Rakhine State and drove hundreds of thousands to flee into Bangladesh.

Just a few years ago, Asean stood idly by as the Tatmadaw ran rampage in Rakhine State, killing Rohingya indiscriminately. Regional leaders must not repeat the same mistake this time. Asean must take firm action against the military, including by imposing sanctions and joining the push for international justice.

The Rohingya have suffered the Tatmadaw's brutality and repression for decades. This military will not stop committing crimes unless the international community acts, starting with the Summit in Jakarta.

TUN KHIN
President Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK



The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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