03/03/2021, 15.53
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Myanmar crisis worries ASEAN leaders who urge no more violence

by Mathias Hariyadi

On behalf of the association, Indonesia’s foreign minister calls on the junta to keep in mind the humanitarian aspects of the crisis and avoid it from getting worse. The regional organisation is caught between the principle of non-interference and the need to respect rights. Indonesia’s experience might provide an example of how to overcome the crisis.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is worried about the crisis in Myanmar; for this reason, following a virtual emergency meeting, its members renewed their call for an end to the violence.

Today, Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi urged the military junta that took over Myanmar to keep in mind the humanitarian aspects of the ongoing crisis, which is becoming more critical.

Voicing the concerns of the regional association, Marsudi called for Aung San Suu Kyi’ release, stressing that force should not be used to disperse protesters.

At the same time, she explained that while one of ASEAN’S principles is non-interference in the internal affairs of its members, the association’s charter includes respect for human rights and freedom of thought, which must be protected.

For Marsudi, “Upholding and implementing values of democracy, respect of human rights, good governance, rule of law and constitutional government are equally important.” This applies to Myanmar’s de facto rulers.

On 24 February, Marsudi, together with her Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai, met with Wunna Maung Lwin, the Foreign Minister of Myanmar's provisional military government in Bangkok to discuss a number of issues related to Myanmar’s crisis.

The meeting had initially been scheduled for Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar, but protests in Myanmar prompted ASEAN leaders to change the venue of the summit.

For protesters, a visit to the country under military rule would have meant legitimising the coup and giving the generals a green light to control the nation after arresting its civilian leaders.

Indonesian Foreign minister said that she has had a series of contacts with the military junta and the civilian administration ousted in the coup, in search of a “peaceful solution” to the crisis.

For this to happen, a “favourable political atmosphere must be created in Myanmar” aimed at “dialogue, reconciliation and the strengthening of international trust”, Marsudi explained on her way back from Bangkok.

Indonesia’s former Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa also spoke out. In office between 2014 and 2019, he said that Myanmar's democratisation process “is not an event, but a long-term process”.

Recent developments are a “matter of great concern” for the whole region, starting with the military junta that “should refrain” from violence and guarantee the right to “peaceful protest”.

Indonesia itself can serve as a model to solve the crisis. Despite internal demographic and ethnic differences, Indonesia has been able to put its own military dictatorship behind and set up a civilian government based on respect for democratic values.

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