Anti-coup protesters hold a banner as they march along a street in Yangon, Myanmar, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (AP Photo)
Despite Indonesia being adamant that the invitation of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to the ASEAN summit is not, and should not be seen as any form of legitimization of the regime, ASEAN has been heavily criticized by Myanmar people.
While having the military at the table is necessary, they are the perpetrators of a coup and the cause of the bloodshed which has seen over 750 killed, as of April 24th, and thousands imprisoned.
One of the strongest criticisms, coming from within Myanmar, is that the National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow parallel government formed by ousted lawmakers, has not been invited.
“We already had little hope for ASEAN anyway. While we appreciate their efforts to help us, especially by Indonesia and Malaysia, you have to be realistic here. He is not going to respond to the 5-point consensus. It’s just a matter of nodding his head, letting words go in one ear and out the other. He is never going to release all the political prisoners. He is not going to let ASEAN, or whatever international organization, meet with the NUG. His forces won’t stop the violence and, in fact, while he was at the summit, people were being killed and arrested. The soldiers continue to kill us, harass us and rob us,” said a tea shop owner from Tamwe Township.
“There is no way political dialogue will fix it. ASEAN must be dreaming to believe that this will do anything to benefit Myanmar’s people. Of course, they don’t know and they don’t care. This is basically damage control for them, because the instability threatens the whole region,” said an anti-coup protester in Hlaing Township on April 25th.
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reached a five-point consensus on the crisis in Myanmar on Saturday, calling for an immediate cessation of violence in the country and a dialogue among all parties concerned to seek a peaceful solution.
“I guess the one good thing is that some of the ASEAN members want to take stronger action against the junta for their crimes but, as it is with ASEAN, the way it is set up, it will never happen. The action is too soft. If there ever comes a time for them to reflect on this in the future, maybe they will regret not taking a stronger stance, which might have saved more lives and improved Myanmar’s condition for years to come. As it is right now, the ASEAN consensus seems only to be helping the junta, instead of its supposed goal to save the people of Myanmar,” said a journalist from a news media group that has been banned by the military for reporting dissent against them.
“As a monk, we are supposed to be free of worldly desires and our involvement in them, but most of us cannot sit and preach about peace when innocents are being killed for exercising their rights as citizens,” said a monk, who was part of a Thanga (monk) Network protest held earlier today in Mandalay city.
A female doctor, who has been participating in Civil Disobedience Movement, said she was watching an interview the other day. A female detainee was kicked in the genitals until she bled, after the soldier asked her whether she had a boyfriend. She said she did, and he’s a foreigner.
What the military did to the female detainee, the doctor said, can only be responded to with violence and the fight against the junta will go on, with or without support from ASEAN or any other organization.
By David Tun
As Myanmar grapples with the immediate consequences of the military coup, the dangers of the COVID-19 epidemic have been largely been forgotten. Now, however, COVID-19’s third wave is hitting neighbouring nations hard. After the second wave, Myanmar saw over 3,200 deaths, among over 140,000 cases.