Mon, 11 Dec 2023



Asean urges Myanmar stop attacks on civilians
Published on: Thursday, September 07, 2023
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Asean urges Myanmar stop attacks on civilians
Protesters carry a wounded man shot with live rounds by security forces during a crackdown on demonstrations against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, in March of 2021.
JAKARTA: Southeast Asian leaders strongly condemned violence and attacks on civilians in Myanmar, directly blaming the ruling junta, with host Indonesia saying at a summit there had been scant progress on an agreed peace plan.

Myanmar has been ravaged by deadly violence since the 2021 military coup deposed Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and prompted a bloody crackdown on dissent.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) — long decried by critics as a toothless talking shop—met in the Indonesian capital Jakarta to seek a united voice on the crisis.

The leaders “urge the Myanmar Armed Forces in particular, and all related parties concerned in Myanmar to de-escalate violence and stop targeted attacks on civilians, houses and public facilities, such as schools, hospitals, markets,” they said in a 19-point statement seen by AFP.

“We strongly condemned the continued acts of violence in Myanmar.”

Rights groups have accused the junta of air strikes on rebel strongholds and civilian infrastructure.

Diplomatic attempts to solve the crisis have been fruitless, with the junta ignoring the five-point peace plan agreed with Asean members two years ago as well as international criticism, and refusing to engage with its opponents.

An earlier draft statement seen by AFP—issued by Indonesia with input from all members and thrashed out over several difficult meetings between foreign ministers  — had left its Myanmar section blank.

That illustrated the lack of consensus in the 10-member bloc on dealing with a junta whose leaders remain banned from high-level Asean meetings.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged unity and cooperation “for peace and prosperity” in the region, but his top diplomat said the peace process agreed with the junta to end the violence remained stuck.

“The conclusion is that there is no significant progress in the implementation of the five-point consensus,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters.

She also confirmed the Philippines would chair Asean instead of Myanmar in 2026, after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said earlier Tuesday Manila was ready to step in to replace the junta rulers.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun confirmed it would be replaced as chair. “Myanmar will skip Asean chairmanship in 2026,” he told AFP, without providing details.

Myanmar previously withdrew from the Asean chair in 2006 over a potential boycott by Washington, the European Union and other international powers. The chair went to the Philippines that year.

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