Statement in Solidarity for the Restoration of Democracy and Justice in Myanmar

20 April 2021

MARUAH wishes to congratulate ASEAN for organising an ASEAN Special Summit Meeting on the 24th of April 2021 to discuss Myanmar and find a collective path to restore peace, non-violence, and democracy in the country. We state that this Special Summit is crucially important to the people in Myanmar and for ASEAN as a regional body of 10 member states. We also appreciate Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan for the discussions he had with ASEAN member states of Brunei, Indonesia[1] and Malaysia which have also been working towards this special Summit. We note that call made by ASEAN’s foreign ministers for a halt to the escalating violence and dialogue to end the crisis.[2]

But we need to underscore the importance of having a legitimate representation from Myanmar at the Special Summit meeting, as it is also part of ASEAN’s responsibility to the people in Myanmar and in ASEAN. We are of the view that this dialogue effort to negotiate for an agreement towards non-violence, peace and democracy would be derailed if Myanmar’s junta leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, is the sole representative for Myanmar. We note with concern the announcement made by Thailand that General Min Aung Hlaing is set to attend the ASEAN Special Summit meeting.[3]

The Tatmadaw’s leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, is the key person, responsible for the: coup; denunciation of last year’s legitimate elections where the National League for Democracy (NLD) had won decisively and fairly; ongoing violent assaults on people, continued air raids targeting ethnic groups and the severe restrictions and censorship imposed on the people. The net result is one that shows Myanmar’s people fleeing to other countries, an internal humanitarian crisis, of more than 700 civilians, including 50 children,[4] having been killed by Myanmar’s security forces since February 1st and the possibility of a civil war as 10 of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups [5]have recently thrown their support behind the movement for democracy, peace and free and fair elections.

Hence, we state that recognising Gen Min Aung Hlaing as Myanmar’s political leader to be the sole representative at the Special Summit, would be a travesty to the rule of law, the principles spelt out in the ASEAN Charter and a gross injustice, a betrayal, to the people in Myanmar, many of whom are willing to die for their country.

We ask instead that the Special Summit asks for representatives from: the National Unity Government (NUG) that has been formed;[6] the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) which is a body formed of elected lawmakers from Myanmar’s ousted civilian government; and the tatmawdaw. This way it also anchors ASEAN as the neutral mediator focused on key political players being at the dialogues. It is also an opportunity for ASEAN to establish itself as the regional body that endorses peace, harmony and democracy in the region as also endorsed in the preamble of the 1976 Treaty of the Amity And Cooperation in Southeast Asia.[7]

In summary, we urge that this ASEAN Special Summit does:

  • include representatives from Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) and Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH)
  • explicitly state that General Min Aung Hlaing is attending as a representative of the Tatmadaw, not as leader of Myanmar
  • make a clear stand that ASEAN is functioning by the Responsibility to Protect principles and its principles for peace, democracy, and rule of law.

Statement issued by MARUAH Secretariat
20th April 2021


[1] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/vivian-balakrishnan-meets-indonesian-counterpart-retno-marsudi-in-jakarta

[2] https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/asean-coup-03022021134500.html

[3] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/myanmars-junta-leader-confirmed-to-attend-asean-meeting-thai-foreign-minister

[4] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/myanmar-activists-vow-week-of-protests-during-new-year-holidays

[5] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/myanmar-rebel-groups-back-anti-coup-protests-condemn-junta-crackdown

[6] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/whos-myanmars-national-unity-government.html

[7] “CONVINCED that the settlement of differences or disputes between their countries should be regulated by rational, effective and sufficiently flexible procedures, avoiding negative attitudes which might endanger or hinder cooperation; BELIEVING in the need for cooperation with all peace-loving nations, both within and outside Southeast Asia, in the furtherance of world peace, stability and harmony;”. https://asean.org/treaty-amity-cooperation-southeast-asia-indonesia-24-february-1976/