Slow progress of Asean peace plan for Myanmar criticised

A protester makes the three-finger salute during a vigil to honuor those killed during demonstrations against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, on March 13, 2021. -AFP/Stringer

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network): Observers have criticised a stalemate in the implementation of an Asean peace plan for Myanmar, which was agreed upon more than a year ago in response to the military coup in the South-East Asian country.

The Myanmar military took over the country in a coup in February last year, ousting civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and putting her on house arrest for at least 20 criminal offences, including corruption — all of which the former leader denied.

On Wednesday (June 22), Suu Kyi was transferred from house arrest to solitary confinement in a prison compound in Naypyidaw, AFP reported.

Asean, under the rotating chair of Cambodia this year, has refrained from making any comments regarding Suu Kyi.

Meanwhile, the regional bloc's Defence Ministers Meeting on Wednesday was attended by Myanmar’s military-appointed defence minister Mya Tun Oo despite previous, pressure from some Asean countries to exclude the junta from such meetings until progress is made toward ending hostilities, Reuters reported.

It was the first time a senior official of the military regime attended a ministerial meeting of the bloc since the junta was sidelined late last year for ignoring the so-called Asean five-point consensus.

But Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh said on Wednesday that the Myanmar general’s presence indicated a unified bloc, saying it was "participation to find solutions", Reuters reported.

Cambodia has taken a different approach from Brunei, which, during its chairmanship last year, excluded Myanmar from the Asean summit.

In April last year, Asean agreed on the five-point consensus, which calls for a complete cessation of violence and dialogue involving all parties to the conflict.

To date, the implementation of the peace plan remains in a stalemate and it has even become "a joke", said Eva Kusuma Sundari, board member of the regional network of current and former parliamentarians from several South-East Asia countries, the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

“We are frustrated with the policy, which appears to have become a joke (among Asean members). It is not being respected (by member states),” the former lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

She noted there had been a split among the bloc’s members over the implementation of the five-point consensus, with those in the Indochinese Peninsula tending to not take the consensus seriously, while maritime Asean countries, especially Malaysia, were actively urging the consensus’ implementation.

The APHR, she said, called for more international pressure on Myanmar, as Asean had become unreliable.

“Countries outside the bloc always say ‘please use the Asean-led Mechanism’, but Asean itself is already split on the issue,” she said.

Another APHR member who is part of its International Parliamentary Inquiry for Myanmar, Taufik Basari from Indonesia, called for a response from Asean regarding Suu Kyi's solitary confinement.

The NasDem party lawmaker said each Asean member should view human rights as an international and regional concern "beyond borders and above all interests".

“If there is a strong response from Asean to Suu Kyi’s solitary confinement, it could be expected that the Myanmar junta would understand the importance of Asean for regional diplomacy and politics,” Taufik said.

The Indonesian representative to the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Yuyun Wahyuningrum, said in her intervention during the commission’s meeting last week that she was “very concerned about the devastating consequences of the coup in Myanmar, particularly over the lack of implementation of five-point consensus".

Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Indonesia was concerned about the future of the consensus.

“There has been progress, especially in terms of humanitarian aid, but other than that, we have not seen any promising development,” he said on Saturday.

However, he added that what Aseanhad done in encouraging the implementation of the five-point consensus still showed a united position on the issue, despite different approaches taken by the two Asean chairmanships – Brunei and Cambodia – in handling the situation.

“We continue to keep a close watch on developments,” he said.

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Indonesia , Myanmar , Asean , peace , plan


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