Myanmar Regime Rebuffs ASEAN Pressure to Implement Peace Plan
By The Irrawaddy 28 October 2022
Myanmar’s military regime said renewed pressure from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to implement a peace plan for the strife-torn country would “create more negative implications.”
The message came after ASEAN foreign ministers met in Jakarta on Thursday to discuss how to ease the intensifying crisis in Myanmar, which has been ravaged by social and political chaos since a military coup last year. The Jakarta meeting was held to prepare recommendations to be submitted to ASEAN leaders at the summit of the 10-nation bloc in Phnom Penh next month.
ASEAN last year proposed a peace plan known as the Five-point Consensus, which requires the junta to end violence and begin a dialogue with all sides of the conflict for the restoration of democracy. The junta agreed to the plan but has failed to implement it.
Thursday’s meeting saw ASEAN reaffirm its commitment to the consensus. Myanmar, an ASEAN member, was not invited to the gathering following its failure to honor the peace plan.
The junta’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that as the meeting was held without Myanmar, it would not be bound by its outcomes, but said it was cooperating as a responsible ASEAN member to materialize the peace plan.
“Since implementing the five-point consensus is a process, injecting additional pressure by setting a timeframe will create more negative implications than positive ones,” it warned.
ASEAN has been criticized for sticking to the consensus for more than a year without any evidence it has been effective in resolving the crisis.
After agreeing to the plan, the junta has continued its campaign of arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings of civilians, and airstrikes on anti-regime resistance forces in a vain attempt to secure control over the country. Regime forces killed at least 75 people in an airstrike on civilians at a concert in Kachin State on Sunday. So far, the regime has killed more than 1,300 people since the February 2021 coup.
Rights groups on Thursday condemned ASEAN for failing to act to stop the violence in Myanmar.
Human Rights Watch expressed “huge disappointment” at the outcome of Thursday’s meeting, saying ASEAN had remained committed to the stalled consensus.
“ASEAN needs to get tough by establishing clear, time-bound human rights benchmarks on Myanmar that include the release of political prisoners, a cessation of attacks on civilians, and steps towards dissolving the junta to allow for the establishment of civilian democratic rule,” it said.