Myanmar’s ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) has urged leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their global peers to push for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s other political prisoners, as Myanmar’s crisis can only be resolved through meetings between the popular leader and foreign special envoys.
Myanmar has suffered almost two years of turmoil and violence since the military staged a coup, claiming fraud at the 2020 election in which the NLD won a landslide victory. International monitors dismissed that claim as false.
The military regime detained Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s President U Win Myint before trying them on various charges. The junta has also detained another 12,890 people, mostly for anti-regime activism.
The regime has launched a brutal crackdown on protesters while struggling to quell popular armed resistance against military rule that has sprung up nationwide. So far, the junta has killed more than 2,400 people but failed to establish control over the strife-torn country.
In April last year, ASEAN adopted a five-point peace plan for its member Myanmar that includes the immediate cessation of violence and a dialogue between all parties. But the peace plan has been ineffective as the regime has failed to implement its points. Special envoys from ASEAN and the UN visited the country but were barred from meeting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. ASEAN has been criticized for sticking to the five-point plan, and pressed to engage with Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government rather than working with the junta.
The NLD’s statement, released Tuesday on the second anniversary of its electoral victory that was cancelled by the military, and ahead of an ASEAN summit that will prioritize Myanmar’s plight, also warned that international assistance to solve the country’s problems must be practical and respect Myanmar people’s desires.
It added that the international community must beware that a narrow focus on solving immediate problems may not only damage Myanmar’s democratic movement and human rights but also push the country further into conflict,” it said.
The junta has said a general election will be held early next. The NLD and many in the international community have denounced the move as fraudulent.
Marking the second anniversary of Myanmar’s 2020 election on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the regime’s planned sham election, which could not possibly be free and fair in the current context, would only fuel more violence, prolong the crisis, and defer the country’s transition to democracy and stability.
“We urge the international community to deny the military and its so-called ‘elections’, credibility and instead meaningfully engage with pro-democracy leaders who uphold a vision for an inclusive and prosperous Burma [Myanmar],” he said, while pledging US support for the country’s pro-democracy movement.