Myanmar Junta Says ASEAN’s Views Will Be Considered After Stability Returns

By The Irrawaddy 27 April 2021

The Myanmar military junta chief said he would carefully consider ASEAN leaders’ recommended steps for solving the political crisis in his country after the situation stabilizes.

The governing body of the regime, the State Administration Council (SAC), announced in a statement on Monday that junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said stability is the current priority in the crisis-hit country, including maintaining law and order and restoring community peace and tranquility. He was responding to ASEAN leaders’ “consensus” at their Saturday summit on the Myanmar crisis in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The summit came after the brutal killing of at least 750 civilians by the regime, which seized power and overthrew Myanmar’s democratically elected civilian government on Feb. 1.

During the meeting, the coup chief told the bloc leaders that the suggestions would be positively considered as long as they facilitated the implementation of the five-step roadmap laid down by SAC, claiming that the roadmap served the interests of the country.

Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing also said they would be considered so long as they are in line with the purposes and principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, “ASEAN Way” and “ASEAN Spirit”.

The statement said the junta chief briefed the bloc leaders on recent developments in Myanmar, especially the reason for the military takeover, as well as the anti-regime protests, and the structure, future programs and activities of the SAC.

The junta has tried to justify its military coup by claiming the Nov. 8 election won by the National League for Democracy (NLD) was marred by electoral fraud. It has defended its deadly crackdowns by claiming repeatedly that it has been forced to act because anti-junta protesters are engaging in arson and other violence.

During the meeting, the leaders reached a five-point consensus urging the junta to seek a political resolution to the crisis through dialog, accept the appointment of a special envoy to engage with all the parties and to grant access to humanitarian assistance from ASEAN, which would be coordinated by the ASEAN secretary general in conjunction with the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Center).

However, the bloc failed to urge the military to release political prisoners arrested by the regime since Feb. 1 including Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. At least 4,484 civilians have been arrested by the regime since its takeover, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

Some leaders including those of Indonesia and Malaysia have called individually for the release of all political prisoners in Myanmar.

Expectations for ASEAN’s summit were not high, given the bloc’s policy of non-interference and its history of favoring previous military dictatorships in the country. Myanmar people were especially disappointed by the bloc’s failure to invite representatives of the parallel, civilian National Unity Government (NUG) formed by elected lawmakers from the ousted NLD.

After the meeting, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the media that the Myanmar junta leader did not oppose to a visit by a delegation from ASEAN to help resolve the crisis in the country.

Human rights groups and pro-democracy supporters were disappointed by the ASEAN meeting, saying it did not support the restoration of civilian rule or hold the coup leaders to account for the killing of civilians.

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