Thomas Andrews, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Myanmar has said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) must refrain from engaging with Myanmar’s military leaders because there has been no progress in implementing a five-point peace plan agreed upon between the bloc and the junta after it seized power in a 2021 coup.
“It is time to consider alternative options to break what has become a deadly stalemate,” he told a press conference in Jakarta.
“Asean must consider measures to hold the junta accountable for grave human rights violations and flagrant disregard for the Five-Point Consensus.”
To achieve peace in the war-torn country, the peace plan calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities, safe humanitarian access, and inclusive engagement.
An Asean leaders’ conference in November issued a warning to Myanmar’s junta, concluding that “concrete, practical, and measurable indicators with a specific timeline” were required. However, dissatisfaction has developed as a result of the junta’s increased attacks on opponents.
Andrews’ comments came as Thai media reported that the US prepares to impose new sanctions on state-owned Myanmar banks, and they follow last week’s Thai-hosted gathering of regional diplomats aimed at re-engaging junta leaders who have been prohibited from high-level Asean meetings.
Key Asean countries, including chair Indonesia, which has led behind-the-scenes attempts to bring the military and its opponents together for talks, boycotted the Thai summit.
According to Andrews, the Thailand gathering “may have the dangerous effect of legitimising the junta and undermining Asean unity.”
The Myanmar Coup
The Myanmar coup refers to the military takeover that happened on February 1, 2021 in Myanmar (previously known as Burma). The Tatmadaw, the country’s military, took power and jailed key elected officials, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, thereby destabilising the democratically elected government.
The military justified the coup by claiming significant voter fraud in the November 2020 national elections, which were won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). These assertions, however, were extensively contested, notably by international observers, who found no evidence to back up the charges.
Following the coup, there was widespread public unrest and protests throughout Myanmar. Myanmar’s people, as well as civil society organisations, activists, and international communities, criticised the military’s actions and demanded the return of democracy. The military reacted to the protests with a harsh crackdown that included violence, arrests, and severe human rights violations.
Myanmar’s political and economic condition deteriorated dramatically as a result of the coup, as did human rights and civil liberties. In response to the coup and following human rights violations, the country drew worldwide censure, and many governments imposed sanctions on the military and its commanders.
Myanmar’s political environment has remained unstable since the coup, with ongoing rallies, strikes, and resistance movements by the Myanmar people. The country has major hurdles on its way to democracy, peace, and stability.