ASEAN leaders reach consensus to end Myanmar crisis, demand junta end killings

ASEAN leaders reach consensus to end Myanmar crisis, demand junta end killings”

Activists display defaced portraits of Myanmar's General Min Aung Hlaing during a rally in Jakarta yesterday.

"The situation in Myanmar is unacceptable and should not continue".

The current ASEAN chair, Brunei Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah, and the regional bloc's secretary general should be allowed access to Myanmar to meet contending parties, encourage dialogue and come up with "an honest and unbiased observation", he said. "I don't think the summit is going to bear out a full-blown plan on how to get Myanmar out of the conflict", said Mustafa Izzuddin, senior global affairs analyst at Solaris Strategies Singapore.

The demonstrators from the Jakarta-based Urban Poor Consortium said they are part of a regional coalition called Leaders and Organizers of Community Organizations in Asia, whose network also spans urban poor and working class communities in Myanmar.

The assembled leaders pressured coup leader and armed forces commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to end the violence by his security forces, which has seen at least 745 people killed during brutal crackdowns against peaceful anti-regime protesters, and called for the release of political prisoners including civilian leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Muhyiddin also said he hopes Myanmar will consider Malaysia's proposal to release political detainees promptly and unconditionally.

The group wants ASEAN members to cut all business ties with Myanmar companies controlled by the junta, and urges "international sanctions and a weapon embargo" on the junta, their families and businesses. "Political prisoners must be released immediately", he said, adding that a special envoy from ASEAN needed to be appointed to push for such dialogue.

U Aung Myo Min, a longtime human rights advocate and the director of Equality Myanmar, welcomed ASEAN leaders' efforts to stop the violence in Myanmar, but voiced disappointment that ASEAN failed to extract concrete promises from the coup leader on how he would meet their demands.

On Saturday, as the junta chief attended the meeting with ASEAN leaders and foreign ministers in Jakarta, soldiers and police fired on protesters near Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw. They had also wanted the release of political prisoners.

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But Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that policy should not lead to inaction if a domestic situation "jeopardizes the peace, security, and stability of ASEAN and the wider region" and there is worldwide clamour for resolute action.

All ASEAN states agreed to meet Min Aung Hlaing but would not address him as Myanmar's head of state in the summit, the Southeast Asian diplomat said.

"There is no precedent, especially given the expressed intent to discuss the problems of one member state. Instead, the global community should engage with the newly announced National Unity Government (NUG) as the legitimate government of the country". On Friday, Widodo held bilateral talks with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, in which they discussed the Myanmar crisis.

Indonesian police guard the site of Saturday's ASEAN emergency summit in Jakarta, which drew protests over the invitation of Myanmar's military general.

Myanmar's deposed ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, who drew global praise for denouncing the coup in a remarkable speech before the U.N. General Assembly in February, pleaded with ASEAN to prioritize civilians. "Otherwise, it would be a waste of time", the deputy foreign minister said. Vietnam is serving as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

The Asean gathering was the first coordinated worldwide effort to ease the crisis in Myanmar, an impoverished country that neighbours China, India and Thailand and has been in turmoil since the coup.

"Sitting down to talk with the Myanmar junta is at least [a step] to help find a humanitarian and political solution for Myanmar", said Ha Hoang Hop, an global relations expert at Singapore's ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

There was no immediate comment from Min Aung Hlaing.

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