The deplorable violence in Myanmar must be stopped immediately, leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) told the head of Myanmar’s military junta on Saturday.
Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who led the Feb. 1 coup against Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, was in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta for a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders on the Myanmar crisis.
The president of Indonesia, prime ministers of Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Cambodia, along with the foreign ministers of Thailand, the Philippines, and Laos attended the meeting, which was presided by current chair Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the bloc must no longer “hide behind” its principle of non-interference.
“Yes, it is true that we as ASEAN member states uphold the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other ASEAN members, as enshrined in the ASEAN charter,” he said.
“However, that does not mean that we should ignore a serious situation that jeopardizes the peace, security, and stability of ASEAN and the wider region.”
He said the international community expects the regional bloc to play a pivotal part in resolving the Myanmar crisis.
“The pressure is increasing, and there is only so much that ASEAN can do,” he said.
If the bloc is to help restore normalcy in Myanmar, then the ASEAN chair and secretary general must get “access into Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned,” the Malaysian premier added.
“This is much needed for ASEAN to provide an honest and unbiased observation. If ASEAN is allowed access, this can demonstrate to the world that it is on track in helping Myanmar restore normalcy in the country,” Muhyiddin said.
If ASEAN can provide regular updates with the full participation of Myanmar, this will demonstrate the willingness of Myanmar to engage constructively and move forward, he added.
“Then, if the situation in Myanmar improves, this will open the door for ASEAN to extend humanitarian assistance to those badly affected by the current situation,” he concluded.
Indonesia’s president also urged the Myanmar military junta’s leader to open access for humanitarian assistance from members states of the regional organization.
Addressing a news conference after the meeting, Joko Widodo called on the leader of Myanmar’s military junta to commit to ending violence in the country.
“All parties must exercise restraint so that tensions can be eased,” he said.
He said it was essential to have a special ASEAN delegation to encourage dialogue among all parties in Myanmar.
“Indonesia is committed to overseeing the follow-up of this commitment so that the political crisis in Myanmar can be resolved immediately,” Widodo added.
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