Southeast Asian MPs call on ASEAN to step up and help the Myanmar people in their struggle against the military junta


Southeast Asian MPs call on ASEAN to step up and help the Myanmar people in their struggle against the military junta

JAKARTA – Dozens of parliamentarians from several Southeast Asian countries urged the ASEAN and the international community at large to take swift and concrete action against the illegal military junta led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and provide real assistance to the pro-democracy forces in Myanmar, following a roundtable discussion on the Myanmar crisis held today in Jakarta.

The discussion, which was part of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights’ (APHR) annual members’ forum, was held at the Indonesian House of Representatives and included parliamentarians and civil society organizations from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Myanmar itself.

The crisis in Myanmar is causing a humanitarian catastrophe of gigantic proportions. The junta’s atrocities have displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes. Adding to previous displacements before the coup, the number of internally displaced persons in Myanmar now stands at more than a record 1.3 million. The sole responsible for this disaster is the junta led by Min Aung Hlaing, and it is high time that ASEAN stop treating it with kid gloves. Strong pressure to isolate the Myanmar military is more imperative and urgent than ever,” said Mercy Barends, member of the Indonesian House of Representatives and APHR Chair. 

According to the local organization Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), over 16,000 political prisoners are currently jailed in abysmal conditions, and at least 3,075 people have been killed by the military since the coup, although AAPP believes that the number is likely many times higher.

These conditions also extend to parliamentarians in the country. According to APHR monitoring, 84 members of the national and sub-national parliaments remain in detention, facing not only the risk of torture in prison but also possible risk of execution following the executions of four pro-democracy activists, including former lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw. Most ousted parliamentarians continue their work in hiding and are at risk of detention or even death. Some have had their family members harassed and their properties seized by the junta.

“What is happening in Myanmar is an affront to humanity and we, as fellow humans, should take it seriously and not stand idly as the military continues to violate the human rights of the Myanmar people. We, Parliamentarians across Southeast Asia must work together in putting the country back into a path towards democracy. One of the first steps is to recognize the National Unity Government and the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) as the legitimately elected representatives of the people of Myanmar and involve them in any future negotiations,” said António de Sá Benevides, member of Parliament of Timor Leste and APHR Member.

The International Parliamentary Inquiry (IPI) into the global response to the crisis in Myanmar, which was organized by APHR in 2022, found that the global community has largely failed to provide the help that the people of Myanmar sorely need. ASEAN and the international community at large have hidden behind the Five Point Consensus, which the Myanmar junta has continually and blatantly flouted.

“As Chair of ASEAN this year, the biggest and most democratic country in the region, Indonesia has a duty to step up and tell the generals in Naypyidaw that enough is enough. After the failed approach of Cambodia last year, appeasing the generals and ignoring the pro-democracy movement, Jakarta should put significant pressure on the Myanmar military, and support the pro-democracy forces led by the NUG, if it is serious about solving the crisis,” said Charles Santiago, former member of the Malaysian Parliament, and APHR Co-Chair.

Click here to read this statement in Thai.

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ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) was founded in June 2013 with the objective of promoting democracy and human rights across Southeast Asia. Our founding members include many of the region's most progressive Members of Parliament (MPs), with a proven track record of human rights advocacy work.

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