ASEAN leaders reach consensus to end Myanmar crisis, demand junta murder

Southeast Asian leaders said they had agreed on a plan with Myanmar’s junta chief on Saturday to end the crisis in the battered nation, but he did not explicitly respond to demands to stop the killing of civilian protesters.

“It is beyond our expectations,” Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told reporters after the leaders’ meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which also attended Myanmar’s Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

“We did not try to accuse his side too much because we do not care who causes it,” Muhyiddin added. “We just emphasized that violence must stop. For him, it is the other side that is causing the problems. But he agreed that violence must stop.”

ASEAN leaders wanted a commitment from Min Aung Hlaing to hold back his security forces, which an activist monitoring group says has killed 745 people since a massive civil disobedience movement erupted to challenge his February 1 coup. They also wanted to release political prisoners.

“He did not reject what I and many other colleagues put forward,” Muhyiddin said.

According to a statement from the group chairman Brunei, agreement was reached on five points – ending the violence, a constructive dialogue between all parties, a special ASEAN envoy to facilitate the dialogue, acceptance of aid and a visit by the envoy to Myanmar. There was no mention of freeing political prisoners in the statement.

“He said he (Min Aung Hlaing) heard us, he would take the points he thought were helpful,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Channel NewsAsia TV.

“He was not opposed to ASEAN playing a constructive role, or an ASEAN delegation visit or humanitarian aid.”

But Lee added that the process had a long way to go, “because there is one thing to say that you will end violence and release political prisoners. It is another thing to get it done.”

There was no immediate comment from Min Aung Hlaing.

“The release of political prisoners is a necessary requirement for the cessation of violence,” said Charles Santiago, head of the ASEAN group of human rights activists.

“ASEAN must now act quickly and set a clear timeline for Min Aung Hlaing to deliver to end the violence, or be ready to hold him accountable.”

‘Restore democracy’

The ASEAN summit was the first coordinated international effort to alleviate the crisis in Myanmar, a poor country neighboring China, India and Thailand, since the coup that toppled Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government. Myanmar is part of ASEAN with 10 nations, which have a policy of decision-making and do not affect the affairs of its members.

Myanmar’s parallel national unity government (NUG), consisting of pro-democracy figures, remnants of Suu Kyi’s dismissed administration and representatives of armed ethnic groups, said it welcomed the consensus reached but the junta must keep its promises.

“We look forward to ASEAN’s actions to follow up on its decisions and restore our democracy,” said Dr. Sasa, spokesman for NUG.

It was unusual for the leader of a military government in Myanmar to attend an ASEAN summit – usually the country has been represented by a lower-ranking officer or a civilian.

The leaders of Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Brunei were present at the meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Laos, Thailand and the Philippines.

While ASEAN’s non-interference policy makes it difficult to deal with contentious issues, the body is seen by the UN, China and the United States as best placed to deal with the junta directly.

“We i [@UN] The Security Council is eagerly awaiting the outcome of the @ASEAN meeting on Burma, which deserves serious and immediate attention, “tweeted US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Still, some analysts warned of the dangers of giving the junta legitimacy by inviting its leader to the summit.

“Formal representation of Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) at the ASEAN Summit, without giving any concessions in return, including first and foremost a commitment to stop the bloodshed, is not constructive,” Huong Le Thu of the Australian Strategic Policy Initiative wrote in a statement. analysis of the ASEAN meeting.

(REUTERS)

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