Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim called for tougher ASEAN pressure on Myanmar. Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he said, must take measures to pressurise the Myanmar government into ending atrocities against its people.
Anwar, on a two-day official visit to Thailand, said in a speech to the Malaysian-Thai Chamber of Commerce that ASEAN members have to be courageous enough to try and resolve the crisis in Myanmar, triggered by the 2021 coup, which the UN has described as a civil war.
Security forces have killed thousands of civilians and army sweeps through the countryside have displaced more than one million people from their homes. According to SCMP, in 2017, a brutal counterinsurgency campaign against the Muslim Rohingya minority drove more than 740,000 across the border to Bangladesh, where they remain in refugee camps.
Anwar said Myanmar has “every right” to its domestic policies and priorities…
“But no country in these times should ever continue with discriminatory policies, marginalisation of their people or intimidating, or worse, perpetrating violence against your own people.
“ASEAN will have to promote and suggest new mechanisms to make sure that these atrocities committed, perpetrated against their own people must end.
“ASEAN should be courageous enough to try and resolve this. It should not tolerate such abuses because the crisis drives large numbers of refugees to seek safety in other countries in the region.
“It would be ideal if we have a strong consensus, and give a strong message to the Myanmar regime.”
After the military takeover, ASEAN came up with a five-point plan to try to help restore peace in Myanmar. It calls for the immediate cessation of violence, a dialogue among all parties, mediation by an ASEAN special envoy, provision of humanitarian aid and a visit to Myanmar by the special envoy to meet all sides. The military government initially agreed to it but has since stymied efforts at its implementation.
ASEAN pressure on Myanmar has so far consisted of refusing to let Myanmar’s military leaders attend the group’s main meetings, but that has failed to win their cooperation.
Western nations have implemented stronger action in response to the crisis than ASEAN, including political and economic sanctions against the generals and their cronies.
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