Myanmar’s Civilian Government Demands ASEAN Invite

By The Irrawaddy 11 November 2022

Myanmar’s acting civilian president Duwa Lashi La has called Southeast Asian leaders at the annual ASEAN summit to reject the junta’s sham election planned for next year and engage with his National Unity Government (NUG) to end regime atrocities.

The meeting began in Cambodia on Thursday with Myanmar’s crisis set to dominate talks amid widespread criticism over ASEAN’s stalled peace plan, called the five-point consensus.

“Excellencies, I greatly appreciate that this leaders’ summit will consider recommendations, to take further practical action and to help end the suffering of the people of Myanmar. Instead of continuing to allow the junta to waste time and destroy lives, we urge you to take meaningful action with those of us who truly wish to end the crisis,” Duwa Lashi La wrote on November 8.

Since agreeing to the five-point consensus in April last year, which called for an end to violence, the junta has intensified its extrajudicial killings of civilians and airstrikes.

Regime forces killed around 80 people in an airstrike on a concert in Kachin State on October 23. The regime has killed more than 2,400 people since the February 2021 coup.

For failing to implement its peace plan, ASEAN has barred junta leader Min Aung Hlaing from the summit but it will accept “non-political” representatives, which was rejected by the junta. Regime representatives are allowed to attend ASEAN’s ministerial meetings, which the bloc says maintains the status quo.

Duwa Lashi La’s letter said people are suffering beyond comprehension, including in indiscriminate aerial bombing.

“For us, each day of the junta’s atrocities is a tragedy. Therefore, we seek a time-bound approach to avoid a lengthy, worsening disaster for the people of Myanmar and the region,” he said.

Duwa Lashi La said no junta representative should be invited to any ASEAN meetings but the NUG, National Unity Consultative Council and other stakeholders should be represented.

“I note that the military junta’s proposed elections are not only a sham and illegal, but they will certainly cause greater instability in Myanmar and the region. We earnestly hope that ASEAN rejects the junta’s sham elections,” he said.

He also called for humanitarian assistance.

Duwa Lashi La said the NUG and other stakeholders have prepared a serious roadmap for Myanmar, based on the rule of law, democracy, peace and a commitment to an inclusive new Myanmar that protects everyone, including the Rohingya.

“Our people will never forget those who stand with us,” he wrote.

The NUG’s foreign minister, Daw Zin Mar Aung, also called on her ASEAN counterparts to replace or expand the peace plan with formal mechanisms for engagement with the NUG as Myanmar’s legitimate representative.

This should include NUG attendance at ASEAN summits, she said.

“While you convene, the illegal military junta continues to escalate its indiscriminate attacks on civilians,” the minister’s letter said, mentioning the junta’s bombing of schools, torching of villages, beheadings and burning to death of children, extrajudicial executions of pro-democracy activists despite the ASEAN appeals to stop and detention of foreign nationals as bargaining chips.

However, a leaders’ statement issued on Friday included references to the five-point consensus and tasked ASEAN officials to draw up an implementation plan without giving any details.