Can ASEAN negotiate on Myanmar democratization?

by Aung Aung
Can ASEAN, which is formed to promote regional peace and stability by adhering to the principles of justice and the rule of law in relations between the countries of the region and adhering to the principles of the UN Charter, be able to negotiate for Myanmar democratization?

Interfering in the internal affairs of ASEAN countries should be solved based on peaceful settlement is the main principle of ASEAN. For this reason it will be difficult for ASEAN to call for Military Junta of Myanmar transfer of power to the civilian government. Can ASEAN mediate the release of all arrested leaders and the establishment of a federal democracy that the people of Burma want?

Instead of legally recognizing the results of the 2020 election, the Burmese military launched a coup that caused eradication the 2008 constitution drafted by the military dictatorship. For more than 60 days, majority civilians of Myanmar has been protesting against the coup across the country. Security forces used deadly weapons, including heavy weapons, snipers, machine guns and hand grenades to disperse the peaceful protesters. More than 700 unarmed civilians, including about 50 children, were brutally shot dead. Singers, movie actors; politicians and protest organizers have been arbitrarily detained by security forces. More than 3,000 civilians, including rescue workers, were arbitrarily arrested. Some were charged with sedition code and 23 protesters were sentenced to execute initially when the international community strongly opposed death penalty junta withdrew death sentence. The use of force by the military to quell protests has become one of the most violent acts in the World.

As a result, Asean countries, especially Malaysian and Indonesian, also protested against the coup and the atrocities of the military. The international community wants to put pressure on the military, but China wants Asean to intervene in Myanmar’s current situation. ASEAN countries face a difficult balance to handle their own members. It should deal with the military junta in a prudent way in order to solve the problem.

ASEAN, on the other hand, needs to continue and maintain dialogue with the military. Immediate adaptation, such as the release of all political prisoners or the release of a majority of political prisoners or an end to violence, is not possible without at least some communication channels.

In practice, mediation requires a bit of trust and goodwill between Myanmar and the rest of ASEAN. What can ASEAN do if the Burmese generals do not comply with ASEAN’s demands? Or what if the Burmese military demands that ASEAN act in accordance with the 2008 constitution? Previously, the military held 25 percent of the seats in parliament. The defense, judiciary and the general administration were in hands military generals during civilian government from 2010 to 2020 but they seized power in a coup d’état.

The crisis in Myanmar has far-reaching implications for neighboring countries. The army massacred thousands of Rohingya in 2016-17 and drove more than a million Rohingya from Rakhine State to neighboring Bangladesh. The ICJ and the ICC have sued the military leaders for the Rohingya genocide. If military leader Min Aung Hlaing staged a coup to free from the cases of the ICJ and the ICC, would it be possible for Asean to comply with the wishes of the genocidaires of Myanmar?

With the support of China, the civil war continued throughout Burma since 1960s. What can ASEAN do if the military pressures on ASEAN countries to acknowledge the coup as a legitimate government in line with ASEAN’s non-interference principle?

Due to ASEAN’s non-interference in ASEAN’s internal affairs, Myanmar generals have committed acts of Rohingya genocide; the problem of boat people and the influx of illegal workers into ASEAN countries could not be solved. Recently on 10th April 2021, General Min Aung Hlaing came to Rakhine State and provided thousands of rice bags and other help to Rakhine community and discussed with Rakhine politicians” said a Rakhine trader who sells things in ThaeChaung Camp of Sittwe. Promoting Rakhine and degrading Rohingya is military junta’s tactic of divide and rule policy. Strong tie between Rakhine politicians and military junta can create another violence against Rohingya.

If ASEAN focuses on their own interests and ignores the voice of the Burmese people, it could lead to instability, blood shed and refugee problems in Burma as well as its impact in ASEAN. Finding a peaceful solution is the best, but stubborn Burmese Fascist leaders who are like Hitler will never agree any kind of peaceful dialogue unless ASEAN let them to hold power through 2008 Constitution. The CRPH released a federal democracy charter and announced the abolishment of the military-drafted constitution that was in place since 2008.

As Myanmar generals do not value human rights, giving such military leaders a chance to maintain power, would be possible to commit another genocide of innocent civilians in Burma. China directly involved in killing large numbers of innocent people along the gas pipeline from 2012 to 2014 for the success of its Golden Gas project in KyaukPyu and installation of pipeline from KyaukPyu of Rakhine to Yunnan of China. Up to now, hundreds of thousands of IDPs have not been resettled in their own places in Rakhine State and more than a million refugees in Bangladesh have to be repatriated. Can Asean agree on the determination of China and Russia, the Fascists, for their preparing to kill millions of Burmese in order to meet their own interests?

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