A group of parliamentarians across Southeast Asia urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to hold the military in Myanmar accountable for the “blatant disregard” of human rights in the country.
The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) made the call ahead of the scheduled visit of ASEAN officials to Myanmar this week.
Malaysian member of parliament Charles Santiago noted that more than a month since the ASEAN leaders’ meeting on Myanmar, “the military has merely carried on with its brutal crackdown against the people.”
“How many more innocent lives must be lost before ASEAN decides to move beyond words and actually put in place binding measures and lay out consequences for the military’s brutality?” said Santiago.
Indonesia’s foreign minister on Wednesday also called on the ASEAN to immediately name an envoy to Myanmar, more than a month after the bloc agreed steps to try to end turmoil after a military coup.
ASEAN is leading the main diplomatic effort on Myanmar since the February 1 coup plunged it into chaos, with hundreds of killings by security forces, thousands jailed, daily protests, paralyzing strikes and spreading conflict in border regions.
Little apparent progress has been made since ASEAN said at a meeting in Indonesia’s capital in April that it had reached a “consensus” with the junta ruling member state Myanmar.
“The appointment of a special envoy must be done immediately and communication with all parties must be maintained,” said Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in a video news conference in Jakarta.
The chair and secretary-general of the 10-nation ASEAN plan to travel to Myanmar this week to follow up on the five-point consensus the bloc said it had agreed.
Those points included ending violence, a constructive dialogue among all parties, the special ASEAN envoy to facilitate the dialogue, acceptance of aid and a visit by the envoy to Myanmar.
Rather than agreeing to dialogue with opposition forces that have formed a rival National Unity Government, the junta has branded them as terrorists and traitors.
“Inclusive dialogue should be encouraged to solve the political crisis in Myanmar and to bring democracy back to Myanmar’s political sphere in accordance with the will of the people of Myanmar,” said Retno.
The APHR, meanwhile, said the visit must also be an occasion for ASEAN officials to meet with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint.
“If ASEAN only meets with the military it risks, once again, playing into the junta’s public relations exercise and granting them legitimacy, when all they deserve is admonition,” said Santiago in a statement.
The United Nations Refugee Agency has estimated that 61,000 people have been internally displaced and over 12,000 refugees have fled Myanmar since February 1. – with reports from Czarina Legisma and Reuters