International Pressure Grows on Myanmar Junta to Cooperate With ASEAN

By The Irrawaddy 14 October 2021

Myanmar’s military regime is facing mounting regional and international pressure to cooperate with ASEAN to resolve the country’s political crisis, as calls grow for the regime to be excluded from the bloc’s summit scheduled for later this month if it fails to do so.

For all his promises to follow the five-point consensus agreed by ASEAN at its summit in April to tackle the political turmoil that has gripped the country since the military coup in February—including an immediate cessation of violence and a visit by a special envoy—regime leader Min Aung Hlaing has largely failed to implement it.

Plans for a visit to the country by the regional bloc’s special envoy Erywan Yusof are still in limbo, as his request to meet all stakeholders including the country’s detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been refused by the regime.

On Wednesday, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR); the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN), an NGO working to promote human rights and democracy in Myanmar; and more than 50 local rights groups urged the bloc’s leaders not to invite the regime leader to the upcoming ASEAN Summit. They reasoned that the junta had failed to respect the five-point consensus and pointed to its continued refusal to cooperate with the regional bloc on its implementation.

Excluding Min Aung Hlaing from the summit would be a huge blow to the junta, which has desperately been seeking official recognition from other countries, especially those in ASEAN, as Myanmar’s rightful government.

On the same day, the European Union called on the Myanmar regime to engage with the ASEAN special envoy to fully implement the consensus, while stressing the need for the military to facilitate regular visits by Erywan and allow him to “engage freely with all [those] he wishes to meet.”

In its statement, the EU also called for the immediate and unconditional release of President U Win Myint, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all those detained in connection with the coup, the establishment of a genuine political dialogue and a peaceful return to the country’s democratic path.

“The European Union underlines that a meaningful political dialogue must include all relevant stakeholders, including the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), the National Unity Government (NUG), ethnic groups, political parties and other pro-democracy forces committed to working towards a peaceful resolution of the current crisis,” it said. The CRPH was formed by ousted elected lawmakers from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). The NUG was organized by the NLD parliamentarians and their ethnic allies in the wake of the coup as the “legitimate government of Myanmar.”

The European Parliament last week also agreed to support the CRPH and NUG.

Zaw Min Tun, the military’s spokesman, recently said that dialogue between the ASEAN special envoy and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the NUG and People’s Defense Forces could not take place because the State Counselor has been charged with a number of crimes, while the two organizations have been declared illegal by the junta

The regime’s refusal to allow the special envoy to enter the country has drawn the ire of some ASEAN member countries including Malaysia. Its Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing could be excluded from the regional summit over the junta’s failure to cooperate with ASEAN’s efforts. He also said his country is ready to hold talks with Myanmar’s shadow government if the junta continues to fail the bloc.

Following the tussle, Erywan said last week that the bloc was “deep in discussions” about not inviting the junta leader to the summit after the issue was raised by the Malaysian foreign minister and others.

“Up until today there has been no progress on the implementation of the five-point consensus, and this has raised a concern,” he said, according to Reuters.

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