In Solidarity for the Restoration of Democracy in Myanmar: A Call to ASEAN

8 April 2021

8th April 2021

By: Tan Yi Han*

Seven year old Khin Myo Chit was sitting on her father’s lap in her home when soldiers killed her. Thinzar Hein was a nursing student who was treating injured protestors at protest sites when she was shot in the head by soldiers. Sixteen year old Kyaw Min Latt was cycling with two others when soldiers in a passing vehicle shot him. 

More than 500 civilians have been killed since the Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw, seized power on 1 February 2021. The highest toll – 141 lost their lives in one day of 27 March. The escalating violence represents not only a humanitarian crisis but threatens regional peace, stability and prosperity. 

ASEAN cannot afford to turn a blind eye to this tragedy. The leaders of ASEAN must act decisively to help Myanmar return peacefully to a democratically-elected civilian government. 

ASEAN has taken encouraging first steps. A statement conveyed by ASEAN Chair, Brunei, summarising the meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers, urged for a “peaceful solution” to the crisis. Also deserving of applause are individual statements issued by Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore urging Myanmar’s military rulers to free Suu Kyi and other political leaders who have been arrested. 

Thailand has called for ASEAN to adopt a “collective stand” on Myanmar. That could happen via the high-level ASEAN meeting of Southeast-Asian leaders proposed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. It is encouraging that Singapore actively supports such a proposal. as stated by the Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 

The Myanmar general election on 8 November 2020, won decisively by the National League for Democracy (NLD), had been praised by election monitors for being a peaceful process and that it was free of major irregularities. The Tatmadaw has a right to raise concerns on the election.  In fact the Union Solidarity Development Party  had filed their complaints in court, making it unnecessary an illegal to resort to violence. The coup and subsequent killings call into question the Tatmadaw’s claim to be defending the Constitution and the will of the people. 

The anti-coup movement continues to grow despite the brutal crackdown, suggesting that the coup is widely condemned by the people of Myanmar. Meanwhile, 10 of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups have thrown their support behind the anti-coup movement. All signs point to a protracted conflict and further escalation of violence.

The peaceful transition to democracy in 2015 had led to a friendly environment for economic investments, including from fellow ASEAN countries. In fact, Singapore has been the largest investor in the country, with US$24.1 billion in approved foreign capital. The coup is therefore not only disastrous for the country’s economic recovery, but also for the entire region’s economy.

Many from ethnic groups and villagers are fleeing the violence, becoming refugees. What is often forgotten is the pandemic and that Covid-19 is still rife. The Chinese city of Ruili near the Myanmar border has already seen an outbreak of Covid.

The gestures made by ASEAN and some of the countries in ASEAN cannot remain as just the spoken word. In fact, there has been success when ASEAN’s engagement effort, among other efforts, helped to pave the way towards Myanmar’s political reforms under Prime Minister (and later President) Thein Sein, leading eventually, to a peaceful transition of power to a democratically-elected civilian-led government in 2015. 

ASEAN must endeavour to use its unique position and relationship with Myanmar to positively influence the Tatmadaw and mediate between the key political stakeholders: the Tatmadaw, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, and representatives from the ethnic minorities. 

For negotiations to be successful, however, all parties must see it as the best way forward. That means that ASEAN must make a clear stand that while the Tatmadaw is a key stakeholder in Myanmar, it does not represent the people nor the government of Myanmar. Only decisions collectively agreed by Myanmar’s key political stakeholders should be recognised. 

ASEAN is the best hope for the people of Myanmar. I urge the leaders of ASEAN to:

  • Hold as soon as possible a high-level ASEAN meeting of Southeast-Asian leaders to discuss the Myanmar crisis and adopt a collective stand towards addressing the conflict.
  • Facilitate dialogue between Myanmar’s key political stakeholders;
  • Make a clear stand the Tatmadaw does not represent the people or government of Myanmar, and only collective decisions via peaceful negotiations will be recognised.

ASEAN can do it again. It needs to. ASEAN must.

Further References:

https://www.e-ir.info/2012/02/08/asean-and-the-principle-of-non-interference/

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/myanmar-coup-asean-non-interference-vivian-bakakrisnan-singapore-14263056

https://opinion.inquirer.net/138046/asean-must-help-myanmars-return-to-democracy

*Opinion Writer for MARUAH

*Edited & Approved by MARUAH


IN SOLIDARITY: A CALL FOR ALL PEOPLE IN ASEAN

22 March 2021

(Update – 27 March) – Thank you to everyone who have shared the word, contributed to the collage or are doing your part to spread the word and show support for the people in Myanmar.

We have created a collage based on submissions from our readers. Please do share this video collage with those around you.


THIS CHAPTER: A IN SOLIDARITY CALL TO ALL PEOPLE IN SINGAPORE

Dear Everyone,

We are trying to get MANY, MANY people in Singapore to show their support for the people in Myanmar.

These are the details:

  • February 1st the military (Tatmadaw) in a coup d’état took over rule from an elected government, disregarding the results, the positive comments made by international elections observers or the work done by the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH)
  • They arrested many elected political leaders, including State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Millions of Myanmarese protested, many stopped work to join the civil disobedience movement (CDM) to fight for their democracy, freedom and justice. Many young and older persons have said that they are ready to die for their country and freedom.
  • To date (March 21st) 235 people have been killed, mainly from shots to their heads.  Many more injured. More than 2,330 people have been arrested. Myanmar is under martial law set by the military
  • The military is relentless in targeting people, communities, killings, destroying the CDM’s barricades in the many cities around the country and in forcing threatening people to be their human shields in the work against protesters.
  • Some countries have stated they are not recognising the Tatmadaw as the government of Myanmar. Some have imposed sanctions. United Nations has issued statements. So has ASEAN. Some ASEAN member countries have issued stronger statements on this situation. But thoughtful and concerted action remains limited.
  • Some Links given below give a clearer picture of the situation.

What we are asking from you:

A call has been made to people in ASEAN to show solidarity with the people in Myanmar.

As people living in Singapore, we hope you will believe in supporting the people in Myanmar. If so, please do this:

  • take a photo of yourself, holding up the 3-finger salute that Myanmarese are using.
  • Do not make the photo larger than 1megabytes
  • Please send it to maruahsg@gmail.com with the subject – In Solidarity with Myanmar (Photo collage)
  • Please indicate a name in English, if you like, otherwise, the subtitled image will be left anonymous.
  • MARUAH Singapore reserves the right to reject images that are offensive and prejudicial to the intent and spirit of this request.
  • Please submit your photos  by Thursday 25th March by 10.00 pm.
  • Sample image (taken from the Internet)

The collage will be created with some of the following statements:

From Singapore: IN SOLIDARITY With The People In Myanmar

WE ARE:

# AGAINST the Coup d’état and Military takeover in Myanmar

# AGAINST the escalating armed violence by the military

# AGAINST people being killed and injured

#AGAINST Imprisonment, Tortures, Deaths of political leaders, activists, journalists, protesters

# AGAINST THE LACK OF ACTION by International, Regional communities

# FOR Democracy

# FOR Rule of Law

# FOR Humanitarian Aid for the injured and food for the people

# FOR China and Russia to not veto and join the UN Security Council to denounce the military takeover and support action against the military for the coup and the violence

# FOR Targeted Economic Sanctions, Global Travel Bans and Asset Freezes by Governments, Banks and the Private Sector when it comes to military personnel, military-owned companies within the Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Companies and Myanmar Economic Corporation

# FOR a global arms embargo to block supplies and sales of weaponry to the military and other armed groups

Sources:
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-regime-issues-arrest-warrant-crph-intl-envoy-treason-charge.html
https://www.frontiermyanmar.net/en/how-the-cdm-can-win/
https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2021/march/what-next-for-burma
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdEyuic_SrM&t=3232s
https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/03/15/targeted-sanctions-needed-against-myanmars-coup-leaders
https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2021-03-15/statement%C2%A0attributable-the-spokesperson-for-the%C2%A0secretary-general-myanmar
https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/03/1086962
http://www.asean2021.bn/Theme/news/iamm-02.03.21.aspx
https://thediplomat.com/2021/03/asean-foreign-ministers-meet-to-discuss-myanmar-crisis/
https://www.mfa.gov.sg/Newsroom/Press-Statements-Transcripts-and-Photos/2021/03/20210322-Min-visit-to-Brunei
https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/un-security-council-agrees-to-condemn-myanmar-violence-urge-military-restraint
https://maruah.org/2021/02/11/statement-of-foreboding-over-the-military-takeover-of-the-government-of-myanmar/

MARUAH is coordinating this In Solidarity action. About MARUAH: https://maruah.org/about/