OPEN LETTER TO ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
26 APRIL 2023
In the two years since ASEAN issued its Five-Point Consensus (5PC) the Myanmar military ‘has brought the country into a perpetual human rights crisis through continuous use of violence, including killing, arbitrarily arresting, torturing, forcibly disappearing, prosecuting, and sentencing anti-coup opponents’
¹; through its “four-cuts’ strategy which is inflicting immense suffering and driving displacement of civilian populations; and through its use of various forms of psychological warfare against the people of Myanmar including the junta’s “Ogre” battalion, a unit of specially-trained killers notorious for beheading and mutilating their victims. The military junta has never shown any intention of adhering to the first point of the SPC, an immediate cessation of violence and ASEAN’S 5PC has no mechanism for compelling the junta to do so. Furthermore, unless the military ends its campaign of terror against the Myanmar people, there can never be constructive dialogue among all parties concerned.
In order to compel the junta to cease all violence against the population of Myanmar:
1. The international community must immediately impose comprehensive, coordinated, targeted economic sanctions on all military revenue sources and especially on entities that allow or could allow the military continued foreign currency access, because it is precisely this revenue that enables the military to maintain sizeable armed forces and purchase arms, munitions, and jet fuel to be used in its campaign of terror against the people.
2. The crisis also necessitates a comprehensive, coordinated, ban on the transfer of arms, munitions, dual- purpose technology, aviation fuel, and equipment for the manufacture of war materiel to the military junta.
3. Atthe same time, given that the fate of Myanmar has major implications for the Indo-Pacific region as a whole, the crisis deserves ‘a strong regional response that extends beyond ASEAN member states’ from all key stakeholders in the region including Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, as well as Myanmar’s neighbours Bangladesh, China and India. As long as the military junta remains in power, Myanmar’s indebtedness to China is increasing as is China’s (and Russia’s) influence, and given the recent militarization of Myanmar’s Coco Islands, and continuing work on the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor which includes a deep-sea port on Myanmar’s west coast, this will impact security in the Indian Ocean region. A democratic and independent Myanmar will help maintain a stable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific and help prevent any state from becoming dominant.
4. Finally, the crisis in Myanmar has always deserved strong action from the United Nations Security Council, but sadly, given the undemocratic nature of the UNSC and the fact that the junta’s biggest supporters hold the veto power in the UNSC, this is yet to happen.
We hope that ASEAN will consider the above recommendations, enlist the support of the wider international community, and put together a response that will compel the Myanmar military junta to cease all violence against the population, and allow the transition to genuine federal democracy, which is the will of the people.
We, the CRPH/NUG Support Group Australia, representing 73 Myanmar Diaspora Organisations in Australia, welcome any invitation to further discuss your response to this request.
¹ United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. March 2023. OHCHR. hitps./fwww.ohehr.org/en/docum ents/country-reports/ahre5221 -situation-human-rights-myanmar-1-february-2022-eport-united