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/


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/


(updated) Statement of Foreboding over the Military Takeover of the Government of Myanmar

11 February 2021

For a copy of the statement in PDF format, please click here.

February 11, 2021

MARUAH unequivocally condemns the military takeover of Myanmar on February 1, 2021.

The Tatmadaw (military) overthrew the elected government of Myanmar, detained government leaders, civil service officers, activists and human rights rights defenders, imposed a year-long Emergency on the country and has blocked intermittently access to Internet. To date the military has given no official data on the state of well-being of the elected leaders of the Myanmar government, their locations, the number of people arrested and information on who have been arrested.

The Tatmadaw acted deliberately and intentionally. This is a coup d’état. The fragile democracy in Myanmar is in tatters. Military personnel have become the new political leaders of the country. The military supporters and members of the Union Solidarity and Development Party and Buddhist nationalists jointly presented themselves as custodians of Buddhism in the 2020 General Elections, saying that the National League Democracy political party as being anti-Buddhism. Currently this joint force is patrolling the streets alongside uniformed soldiers and police to arrest, threaten and beat-up thousands of protesters in the streets. People in Myanmar are saying clearly that they do not wish to be under military rule as they had experienced it over 50 years (1962-2011). The Tatmadaw in the past had suppressed Buddhism, resulting in the 2007 Saffron Revolution, but now has an ally in the Buddhist Nationalists. Reports are coming in on protesters being arrested, beaten, tear-gassed and shot at across Myanmar, in Naypyidaw, Bago, Magway and Mandalay. MARUAH finds this new kinship between Buddhist nationalists and the military disconcerting as its puts into jeopardy the lives, safety and well-being of people of different religious beliefs amongst the 135 ethnic groups as well as the Rohingyas.

MARUAH also recalls the people’s experiences when the country was under successive military regimes. They were times of long imprisonments, solitary confinements, tortures, extreme poverty, starvation, lack of medical attention, low development, fear and distrust. In recent years we saw the persecution of the Rohingyas, many of whom fled the country. The track record of the past and current governments has been to uphold Myanmar’s sovereignty in the face regional and international interventions on human rights violations and to dismiss the UN reports as being biased and hypocritical. Universally, we presided over an impasse as a million refugees continued

to live in poor conditions and the incessant armed conflicts between the Tatmadaw and rebel forces, resulting in deaths, injuries, rapes and destructions of homes. MARUAH emphasises this blatant disregard shown by the Myanmar governments to abide by the Responsibility to Protect principles. MARUAH also deplores the indifference given to protecting people against Covid-19 in this planned coup.

MARUAH has been in solidarity with many civil society actors in expressing their deep concerns over this 10-day-old takeover. But we make this statement, appealing for a deeper cognizance of the character of the people in Myanmar and for actions to protect them. They are, by thousands, in the streets picking up the cudgels to fight for their democracy and to be governed by an elected government, not a military force that usurped the power. They are reaching out to the global community, risking their safety, to share detailed accounts on what is going on in the country.

We appreciate deeply the prompt response from our own government, Singapore, as well as statements from Association of Southeast Nations’ (ASEAN) leaders and the United Nations. We are particularly pleased that United States of America and New Zealand have declared that they will not recognise the new government of Myanmar. We have also noted reports emerging from both state-level and private sector investments and business partnerships in Myanmar. Based on the series of crimes against humanity over 50 years, the lack of culpability by the government of Myanmar, and the resilience of the people in Myanmar in fighting for their freedom and rights, MARUAH urges strongly that we cannot become witnesses to a blood bath in Myanmar. MARUAH asks for a deeper commitment, beyond the suggested meetings to seek negotiation and reconciliation with the Tatmadaw. We ask for a clear course of steps that underscore the unacceptability of this coup, the non-recognition of the Tatmadaw as the government and that economic partnerships be reviewed. To prevent an escalation into a civil war and to protect the people, we humbly make a call for governments, ASEAN and the UN, to:

  • fundamentally, focus on protecting the people of Myanmar whose security and freedom are under threat;
  • develop access routes on funding and prepare safe places as people are fleeing Myanmar to seek refuge in other countries;
  • ask for information on prisoners and their release;
  • ensure that people in Myanmar have an unfettered access to Internet and communication tools, with an understanding that social media platforms will suspend harbingers of ‘hate speeches’;
  • reaffirm the principles of democracy and fair play as a rule of law and conduct as prescribed in the ASEAN Charter and United Nations Declaration of Human Rights;
  • officially, not recognise the Tatmadaw as the government of Myanmar;
  • institute a process for an interim government of multi-stakeholder representatives, including some military officials to be set up;
  • institute a neutral and independent body of global experts on a fact-finding mission to ascertain if there was electoral fraudulence;
  • appoint a UN Special Rapporteur to investigate and document the human rights situation in Myanmar;
  • recommend UN bodies and International Criminal Court to issue an Inquiry on the Tatmadaw, based on charges of the coup d’etat and crimes against humanity;
  • review the nature of investments made in Myanmar and abide by the principles of ethical investing, ethical business conduct, and put in place targeted sanctions against the military and their partners’ enterprises;
  • impose an embargo on the arms trade into Myanmar;
  • build on an alliance with China to be a partner in non-recognition of the military-led government of Myanmar.

Issued by MARUAH Singapore.


About MARUAH Singapore

We are a Singapore human rights NGO.

MARUAH means Dignity in Malay, Singapore’s national language. Human rights are all about maintaining, restoring and reclaiming one’s dignity at the individual, regional and international level.

We seek to:

  • promote and raise awareness, knowledge and understanding of human rights and human rights and related issues at the national, regional and international levels, in Singapore, ASEAN and elsewhere
  • provide a civil society perspective on human rights and related issues at the national, regional, and international levels
  • advocate for and work towards the respect for and upholding of human rights in accordance with international and other norms
  • foster national, regional, and international co-ordination and development of all activities in relation to human rights and related issues facilitate the education, participation and
  • engagement of persons, groups and organisations in Singapore with respect to human rights and related issues.

MARUAH is also the Singapore focal point for the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism. The Working Group has national representatives from all of the founding Member States of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

The Working Group is an NGO officially recognised in the ASEAN Charter as a stakeholder in ASEAN.

maruahsg@gmail.com

www.maruah.org


[Joint statement] Myanmar: Stop the Coup, Let Election Tribunals Do Their Job

3 February 2021

3 February 2021

On 1 February, the armed forces of Myanmar (Tatmadaw), ostensibly acting on allegations of voter fraud in the general elections of 8 November 2020, detained numerous government officials, including State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, and Union Election Commission (UEC) Chair U Hla Thein, as well as pro-democracy activists and politicians from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) and other parties.

The Tatmadaw subsequently announced that it would seize power, declare a one-year state of emergency, and install Vice-President and retired general U Myint Swe as acting president. It was also announced that new elections would be held after the state of emergency under a new election commission, which was later appointed on the night of 2 February.

The undersigned election or human rights monitoring organizations condemn the military coup in Myanmar and call for the immediate release of all detained politicians, government officials, and activists. The Tatmadaw must restore power to the civilian-led government, and seek redress of election-related complaints through the due process of law established under the 2008 Constitution.

Indeed, Myanmar’s Constitution and election laws provide a mechanism to resolve disputes in the form of election tribunals. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which has repeatedly made claims of vote rigging and irregularities in the recent general elections, has like any other stakeholder the legal right to formally contest election results. It certainly has done so, filing 174 complaints out of the 287 received by the UEC.

Election observers were looking forward to seeing all election-related complaints and potential evidence presented and addressed in tribunal proceedings. According to our information, the UEC was about to proceed with the appointment of election tribunals when the military intervened. Election dispute resolution is an integral part of any electoral process, which rests on the fundamental premise that all sides act in good faith.

Therefore, the Tatmadaw must back down from its coup attempt and instead engage in a peaceful and transparent election dispute resolution process. The road to a fully realized democracy is long and arduous, but it is important that all stakeholders commit to upholding and protecting democratic norms. A repeat of what transpired after the 1990 general elections would mark a stark return to authoritarianism and will not be accepted by the people of Myanmar and the international community.


Signatories:

  1. Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)
  2. Association for Elections and Democracy (PERLUDEM), Indonesia
  3. Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)
  4. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
  5. Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID)
  6. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
  7. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), Cambodia
  8. Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), Sri Lanka
  9. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Sri Lanka
  10. Citizen Congress Watch (CCW), Taiwan
  11. Civil Network OPORA, Ukraine
  12. Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0), Malaysia
  13. Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community (CCFC)
  14. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
  15. East and Horn of Africa Election Observers Network (E-HORN)
  16. Elections Observation Group (ELOG), Kenya
  17. ENGAGE, Malaysia
  18. Free and Fair Election Forum (FEFA), Afghanistan
  19. Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), Pakistan
  20. General Election Observation Committee (GEOC)/Nepal Law Society
  21. Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM)
  22. Hong Kong Election Observation Project (HKEOP)
  23. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), Cambodia
  24. Independent Election Monitoring Committee (KIPP), Indonesia
  25. Jaringan Pendidikan Pemilih untuk Rakyat (JPPR), Indonesia
  26. Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), Philippines
  27. MARUAH (Working Group for ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore)
  28. Movement for Free & Fair Elections (MDDE), Sri Lanka
  29. National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), Philippines
  30. National Election Observation Committee (NEOC), Nepal
  31. National Election Watch Sierra Leone (NEWSL)
  32. Neutral & Impartial Committee for Free & Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)
  33. Open Forum for Democracy Foundation (P-NET), Thailand
  34. People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-Center), Cambodia
  35. People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), Sri Lanka
  36. Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia
  37. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  38. Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB)
  39. Tindak Malaysia
  40. Transparency International Cambodia
  41. Transparency Maldives
  42. Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA)
  43. We Watch, Thailand
  44. West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON)
  45. Women for Social Progress (WSP), Mongolia
  46. Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP), Cambodia