Myanmar Protesters Call ASEAN Not to Endorse Military Regime

By The Irrawaddy 24 February 2021

Myanmar’s anti-regime protesters gathered outside Asean member embassies, including Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, on Wednesday, calling them to reject any cooperation with the “illegitimate” military government.

A larger crowd gathered at the Indonesian embassy in Yangon than on Tuesday, holding placards saying: “Dictator never keeps promise. Stop negotiating with them” and “Meet our elected government”.

Among the crowd were women’s rights defenders. They gave the embassy officials an open letter on behalf of Myanmar’s women asking Jakarta to refuse to recognize the junta as a legitimate government.

Indonesia is consulting with other Asean members to reach a consensus before a special meeting on Myanmar’s coup.

Myanmar’s military-appointed foreign minister, U Wunna Maung Lwin, flew to Bangkok to meet Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Wednesday after the latter abruptly canceled her planned trip to Myanmar following protests in Myanmar against a purported plan to support the junta’s new election proposal. Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha received U Wunna Maung Lwin in Bangkok and held talks which were also attended by Marsudi.

“We will do our utmost to condemn any country that supports the military dictatorship,” said Daw May Sabe Phyu, a prominent women’s rights defender, who marched to the Indonesian Embassy on Wednesday.

She added that secret talks would be seen as illegitimate, while stressing that Asean should respect the will of the people as it pledged, instead of supporting dictators.

Muslims from Myanmar protest at the Indonesian Embassy on Wednesday afternoon. / The Irrawaddy

Daw May Sabe Phyu said the protests at the embassies were fighting for human rights and democracy at home and across Asean to be respected.

Thailand and other Asean members were condemned on social media for meeting members of the military regime.

Protests were held at the Malaysian and Thai embassies, calling for discussions with the “Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw”, a committee representing elected members of the Union Parliament from the National League for Democracy (NLD) and ethnic parties, instead of offering to mediate between the military regime and protesters.

Access to the Singaporean Embassy in Yangon was denied so protesters staged a nearby sit-in, holding placards saying: “Singapore: please stand with us” and “Freeze Myanmar junta’s bank accounts”. Singapore, however, said its banks do not hold “significant funds” from Myanmar.

U Aung Myo Min of Equality Myanmar said: “If Asean does not respect the will of the people, the international pressure on it will increase. At the same time, it will conflict with the basic principles of strengthening a member state’s path to democracy, as outlined in the Asean Charter.”

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