Southeast Asian leaders who met with the head of Myanmar’s military junta said they had reached consensus to end the crisis in the country, but the agreement did not include any explicit commitment to stop the killing of civilians or release political prisoners.
A statement issued by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whose meeting marked the first concerted international effort to find a solution to the crisis, said it was agreed that there must be a constructive dialogue and an immediate end to the violence.
The group would also provide humanitarian assistance and a special envoy would be appointed to meet with all stakeholders. Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who attended the meeting, said the deal was “beyond our expectations.”
No timeline was outlined for Asean’s plan, nor did the statement refer to the widespread killing of civilians by the military, or the need to release thousands of political prisoners.
On Saturday, when Min Aung Hlaing was attending the meeting in Jakarta, soldiers and police fired at protesters near Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, according to Agence France-Presse reports. A 50-year-old protester was detained by police and shot dead by a soldier, a witness told the news agency.
Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said he was eager to work with Asean’s special envoy and monitor the results of the summit.
“The outcome of the Asean summit will be found in Myanmar, not a document,” he said. “Will the killing stop? Will the terror of the neighborhoods end? Will the thousands of hostages be released? Will impunity persist?
Charles Santiago, head of ASEAN’s group of Parliamentarians for Human Rights, also highlighted the need to ensure that commitments are met urgently.
“Asean’s willingness to respond seriously to the Myanmar crisis depends on holding Min Aung Hlaing accountable, making sure he doesn’t take them out for a walk, and adhering to the agreed points. We should not see a scenario in which Min Aung Hlaing endlessly delays action, or controls who he talks to and who he delivers help to, ”said Santiago.
Asean’s decision to invite Min Aung Hlaing to its meeting in Jakarta drew criticism from Burmese activists and rights experts, who said it risked legitimizing the coup.
Since taking power on February 1, the junta has killed 748 civilians, according to an advocacy group, the Burma Political Prisoners Assistance Association. This includes dozens of children. At least 3,389 people are currently in detention or have been sentenced, including Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won the November elections with a landslide victory.
“We try not to accuse him too much because we don’t care who is causing it,” Muhyiddin said of the head of the board, according to Reuters reports. “We only emphasize that the violence must stop. For him, it is the other side that is causing the problems. But he agreed that the violence must stop. “
Dr Sasa, a spokesman for Myanmar’s national unity government, which was established by pro-democracy politicians and includes elected officials who have been detained, said he welcomed the agreement, adding: “We hope that ASEan will adopt firm measures to follow their decisions and restore our democracy and freedom for our people and for the region ”.
Myawaddy TV, controlled by the military, reported that Min Aung Hlaing had attended the meeting and said that Myanmar would cooperate closely with Asean on various issues, including “the political transition in Myanmar and the process to be implemented in the future.”
The leaders of Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Brunei were present at the meeting, along with the foreign ministers of Laos, Thailand and the Philippines.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism