ASEAN must step up its efforts to address deteriorating human rights and civic space situation in Southeast Asia
Under the Chairmanship of Cambodia in 2022, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must meaningfully address the regressive human rights crisis in the region, including the rapidly deteriorating situation in Myanmar, said rights groups at a webinar today.
The webinar titled ‘Cambodia as ASEAN Chair: Prospects for Human Rights in 2022’ organised by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) discussed the human rights situation in the region and how the ASEAN has responded in 2021 as well as its trajectory as Cambodia spearheads ASEAN next year.
Eleven months after the coup and eight months since ASEAN leaders adopted the five-point consensus, the human rights and humanitarian crisis continues unabated in Myanmar ‒ at least 1,200 people including children have been killed and 10,568 arrested. The deteriorating situation affects not only the daily lives of the people on the ground but also the human rights and political discourse at the regional and international level.
Questions remain as to what extent the regional bloc can effectively bring immediate progress to the situation of Myanmar or if it will just be used to legitimise the military regime.
‘While we welcome the decision by ASEAN to exclude the military junta from ASEAN Summits, we are deeply concerned about the lack of substantive actions to mitigate the Myanmar crisis. The whole country is now dealing with a multi-level crisis. It is not sufficient for ASEAN alone to tackle this crisis. Therefore, we call on ASEAN to cooperate with the UN and international mechanisms to take immediate concrete actions. Further delays in actions will allow the junta to commit more atrocities and this means more bloodshed for the people on the ground,’ said Khin Ohmar, Chair of Progressive Voice.
‘As the next chair, Cambodia has a huge task ahead to ensure that ASEAN unity and credibility is not lost. If ASEAN allows the junta to continue in this manner, the Myanmar crisis will further impact the regional stability and development. ASEAN needs to understand that it is in its best interest to work with the National Unity Government and the people of Myanmar,’ she added.
‘We want ASEAN leadership to have a strategic vision and action plan. ASEAN will not be able to implement its five-point consensus alone, particularly after the junta military has blatantly denied their commitment in the consensus. Under the Cambodia Chairmanship, ASEAN must engage with NUG, the United Nations, dialogue partners, and civil society. What is happening is not only a crisis to Myanmar but a crisis to the credibility of ASEAN and threats to security in general,’ said U Bo Hla Tint, Myanmar National Unity Government Ambassador to ASEAN.
According to the CIVICUS Monitor, fundamental freedoms in half of ASEAN Member States are rated as ‘repressed’. The year 2021 has also shown how restrictive laws have been used to stifle dissent and prosecute human rights defenders in numerous ASEAN countries and new laws passed that would curtail civic space. Further there has been a crackdown on peaceful protests and the use of extra-legal tactics, including online surveillance and smear campaigns, as well as torture and ill-treatment. In Cambodia specifically, CIVICUS documented the arbitrary arrest of dozens of activists, judicial harassment, and intimidation of opposition party CNRP members and families, and reprisals on journalists.
‘It is difficult to see how ASEAN would meaningfully progress on human rights issues with Cambodia at the helm. It has become a de facto one-party state after dismantling the opposition. Civic space has also continued to shrink in the country and those speaking up have faced blatant judicial harassment and at times outright violence. At the same time, we need to keep the pressure on them and support Cambodian civil society,’ said Josef Benedict, Asia Pacific Researcher of CIVICUS.
Under the pretext of COVID-19, Cambodia has introduced draconian measures such as the National Internet Gateway to increase online surveillance. This adds to the long list of concerns including the arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of defenders and political opposition in the country. Cambodia’s degrading human rights record raises concerns about whether it has the political will to take the steps needed to improve on the human rights situation of ASEAN.
‘Cambodia should strive to improve the dire human rights situation it is facing domestically – especially considering the fact that elections are fast approaching – while also seeking to ensure regional peace and stability. As ASEAN chair, Cambodia must rally its ASEAN partners to answer the calls for support coming from Myanmar, and take concrete action rather than hide behind the argument of non-interference,’ said Sopheap Chak, the Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR).
ASEAN’s prospects of human rights in 2022 remain rocky and uncertain, reflecting on the domestic situation ASEAN Member States, particularly its Chair, must deal with. Nevertheless, the panelists called on civil society and various actors to keep monitoring the progress, or lack thereof, by ASEAN in responding to the situation of human rights and civic space in the region, particularly on immediate measures to bring an end to the crisis in Myanmar.
CIVICUS is a global alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world with 8,500 members in more than 175 countries. Based out of Johannesburg, CIVICUS has offices in New York and Geneva. www.civicus.org
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a network of 82 member organisations across 23 countries, mainly in Asia. Founded in 1991, FORUM-ASIA works to strengthen movements for human rights and sustainable development through research, advocacy, capacity development and solidarity actions in Asia and beyond. It has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and consultative relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. The FORUM-ASIA Secretariat is based in Bangkok, with offices in Jakarta, Geneva and Kathmandu. www.forum-asia.org
The CIVICUS Monitor is an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in all countries across the globe.
ASEAN summit must call on Myanmar's military to end the violence and restore elected government
Re: ASEAN summit must address grave violations in Myanmar by security forces To: H.E. Lim Jock Hoi
Secretary-General of ASEAN
70A Jalan Sisingamangaraja
Jakarta 12110, Indonesia
CC: ASEAN Foreign Ministers
Members of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)
ASEAN Missions to the United Nations Office in Geneva
Le Thi Nam Huong, ASEAN Assistant Director Human Rights Division
Dear Secretary General,
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global alliance of civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, CIVICUS has more than 10,000 members in more than 175 countries throughout the world.
We are writing to you with regards to the ongoing human rights crisis in Myanmar following the military coup and declaration of the state of emergency on 1 February 2021 and ahead of the planned summit by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the crisis scheduled for 24 April 2021. As violence escalates, the situation poses a severe risk to humanitarian and political security in the region. ASEAN has both a critical role to play in addressing this crisis, and also a responsibility to protect those on the ground, including the millions of people in Myanmar who face ongoing human rights violations. Further, with elections overturned, the coup has deprived the people of Myanmar of their elected government which is inconsistent with the principles in the ASEAN Charter.
We have been documenting the state of civic freedoms in the country and are extremely concerned about the brutal crackdown on peaceful protests and civilians by the security forces, which continue unchecked. At least 700 people have been unlawfully killed or extrajudicially executed, including children, as security forces have resorted to violent tactics and battlefield weapons.1 Thousands have also been injured.
Security forces have also unleashed a campaign of random terror at night in residential areas of Yangon and other cities and towns. They are conducting house-to-house searches beating, arresting and even murdering people apparently at random, while destroying or looting private property.2
The security forces have also taken over 3,000 people into custody including politicians, election officials, journalists, activists, and protesters and refused to confirm their location or allow access to lawyers or family members.3 Many are facing charges including treason, for causing fear, ‘spreading fake news or agitating against government employees’ under section 505(A) of the Penal Code and other laws, some which have been tightened following the coup, removing rights with respect to liberty and security of person and due process. 4
The junta has also continued to impose an internet shutdown. Multiple telecoms companies have been ordered to shut off various internet services like mobile data, roaming and public wi-fi for different lengths of time. The efforts appear designed to interfere with protestors organising and to prevent Myanmar citizens, journalists and human rights activists from easily broadcasting what’s happening on the ground to the rest of the world.
Despite these repressive actions by the military junta, the brave people of Myanmar have continued to mobilise to demand that democracy be restored. Further, on 8 February, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) was formed, representing elected members of the Union Parliament from the National League for Democracy (NLD) and a National Unity Government was formed on 16 April 2021.
International and regional response
Since the coup we have seen strong condemnation from the international community with regards to the severe human rights violations in Myanmar. Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on states with influence to urgently apply concerted pressure on the military in Myanmar to halt the commission of grave human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity.5
On 24 March, the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a resolution on Myanmar which mandates dedicated monitoring and reporting from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights focusing on accountability, and on rule of law and security sector reform following the coup. It furthermore calls for an assessment by the High Commissioner on the implementation of recommendations relating to the economic interests of the military.6
On 17 March 2021, the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar - created by the United Nations Human Rights Council - said it was closely following events and collecting evidence regarding arbitrary arrests, torture, enforced disappearances and the use of force, including lethal force, against those peacefully opposing the coup.7 On 2 April, the UN Security Council “strongly condemned” the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Myanmar, in a unanimous statement. It also called on regional organizations, in particular ASEAN, to address the situation in Myanmar.8
A number of countries have also since imposed sanctions against military officials including the Tatmadaw's Commander-in-Chief, Min Aung Hlaing, and Deputy-Commander-in-Chief, Soe Win as well as two military holding companies, Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited (MEC).
Within ASEAN, Brunei, the current chair has called for a “return to normalcy in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar" adding that "we recall the purposes and the principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, including, the adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”. Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore have all expressed alarm over the killings of demonstrators.9
CIVICUS believes this summit is a critical opportunity for ASEAN governments to take necessary steps to address the human rights violations in Myanmar. Failure to do so risks further damaging ASEAN’s reputation as an effective regional body that can meaningfully contribute to a strong and viable community of nations.
Therefore, we call on ASEAN governments to:
- Call upon the Myanmar military regime to respect the will of the people as expressed by the results of the general elections of 8 November 2020, to end the state of emergency and to restore the elected civilian government. Consider suspending Myanmar from ASEAN if these calls are not met;
- Call on the military regime to release all individuals arbitrarily detained, including government officials and politicians, human rights defenders, journalists, civil society members; immediately refrain from the use of excessive force and firearms against protesters and respect people’s right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly;
- Urge the military regime to allow unfettered Internet access, including on all mobile phone networks and lift all restrictions on access to media sites, social media platforms and refrain from imposing any further restrictions against use of internet;
- Take proactive steps in providing humanitarian assistance particularly in ethnic and ceasefire areas, including by optimizing the role of ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre) and ensure there will be no deportation of those fleeing the repression in Myanmar;
- Deny recognition of the military junta and instead engage with the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) and the National Unity Government as the legitimate government of Myanmar;
- Urge the Security Council to immediately impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar and cooperate fully with UN mandates.
We urge all ASEAN member states to address these issues as a matter of priority and we hope to hear from you on our concerns, as soon as possible.
David Kode, Advocacy and Campaigns Lead, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
1. Arrests, deadly attacks on protest movement escalate despite condemnation, sanctions on Myanmar, CIVICUS Monitor, 9 April 2021, https://monitor.civicus.org/updates/2021/04/09/arrests-deadly-attacks-protest-movement-escalate-despite-condemnation-sanctions-myanmar/
2. ‘The Cost of the Coup: Myanmar Edges Toward State Collapse’, International Crisis Group, 1 April 2021, https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-east-asia/myanmar/b167-cost-coup-myanmar-edges-toward-state-collapse
3. ‘Myanmar: Hundreds Forcibly Disappeared, Human Rights Watch’, 2 April 2021, https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/04/02/myanmar-hundreds-forcibly-disappeared
4. ‘Deadly violence against protesters by security forces as crackdown escalates in Myanmar’, CIVICUS Monitor, 9 March 2021, https://monitor.civicus.org/updates/2021/03/09/deadly-violence-against-protesters-security-forces-crackdown-escalates-myanmar/
5. ‘Myanmar heading towards a ‘full-blown conflict’, UN human rights chief warns’, UN News, 13 April 2021, https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/04/1089612
6. ‘UN Human Rights Council adopts resolution on Myanmar’, CIVICUS, 24 March 2021, https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/news/united-nations/geneva/5005-un-human-rights-council-adopts-resolution-on-myanmar
7. ‘IIMM: Recipients of illegal orders should contact us’, United Nations, 17 March 2021, https://iimm.un.org/iimm-recipients-of-illegal-orders-should-contact-us/
8. ‘UN Security Council Press Elements on Myanmar’, United Nations Myanmar, 1 April 2021, https://myanmar.un.org/en/123792-un-security-council-press-elements-myanmar
9. ‘ASEAN leaders to meet over Myanmar, says chair Brunei’, Reuters, 5 April 2021, https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/asean-leaders-meet-over-myanmar-says-chair-brunei
Call on INTERPOL to ban the illegal junta from representing Myanmar at its General Assembly
To: Kim Jong Yang, INTERPOL President; Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL General Secretary; the INTERPOL Executive Committee and INTERPOL Member Countries
Dear INTERPOL President Kim Jong Yang, INTERPOL Vice Presidents Benyamina Abbad and Šárka Havránková,INTERPOL General Secretary Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Executive Committee Delegates Khaled Jameel Al Materyeen, Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi, Jean-Jacques Colombi, Rogerio Galloro, Robert Guirao Bailén, Destino Pedro, Olushola Kamar Subair, Jannine Van den Berg, and Member Countries.
We, the undersigned 259 organizations, call on INTERPOL to immediately ban the Myanmar military junta from representing Myanmar as a member of INTERPOL. We demand you ensure that the military junta is excluded from the upcoming 89th INTERPOL General Assembly and all benefits and future cooperation that membership entails.
According to media reports, the Myanmar military junta’s police force is currently representing Myanmar in INTERPOL and its members, led by the Head of Police and Deputy Home Affairs Minister Lieutenant-General Than Hlaing, will act as delegates for the Myanmar government at the INTERPOL General Assembly. This is a matter of grave concern to us and raises serious credibility issues for INTERPOL itself for the following reasons:
- The military junta does not represent the government of Myanmar. The international community has refused to recognise the military junta as the legitimate government of Myanmar and has prevented members of the military junta from participating in international forums including the UN General Assembly, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and the ASEAN Summit.
- The attempted coup on 1 February 2021, under the leadership of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing by violent means violated the Myanmar Constitution, international law and the principle of rule of law.
- The head of the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar recently stated that since the attempted coup the Myanmar military junta’s widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population amounts to crimes against humanity.
- The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar, composed of international experts including former members of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar and a former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, has recently argued that, in addition to crimes against humanity, the Myanmar military is engaging in terrorism and should be classified as a terrorist organization.
- Lt. General Than Hlaing, as the junta’s Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Chief of Police, is directly responsible for decision making concerning repressive policies and violent actions committed by police against peaceful demonstrators and is therefore responsible for serious human rights violations in Myanmar/Burma.
- For this and other reasons, Lt. General Than Hlaing has been placed by the European Union under a travel ban and asset freeze as of 3 March 2021.
- Targeted sanctions against Lt. General Than Hlaing also remain in place by the US, UK, and Canada (overview with links here).
- Lt General Than Hlaing has been appointed to lead operations in Chin State. Escalating military attacks against civilians there and in Sagaing and Magwe Regions have caused rights groups to draw similarities to “clearance operations” used to violently oppress the ethnic Rohingya population – now at issue in the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice
INTERPOL’s vision is to connect police for a “safer world” and to support security for the world’s citizens. The people of Myanmar are in dire need of safety and security. The single biggest threat to their security is the Myanmar military junta, who is attempting to represent Myanmar in INTERPOL and use the General Assembly as a platform for political gain and international legitimacy. This will embolden the Myanmar military to continue to commit international crimes with blanket impunity.
We note that countering the threat of terrorism is the first of INTERPOL’s seven Global Policing Goals, and INTERPOL has a responsibility to counter and disrupt terrorism wherever it occurs, including in Myanmar.
We draw your attention to condemnation by the UN Security Council regarding the junta following the February 2021 coup, including a November 2021 statement by the Council’s President Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez citing “deep concern at further recent violence across Myanmar”.
We note that upholding human rights is central to INTERPOL’s mandate. We implore you to meet the commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated in Article 2 of the Constitution of the ICPO-INTERPOL. Recognizing the Myanmar military junta, responsible for systemic and grave human rights violations would be a clear violation of this article.
We appeal to you to adhere to INTERPOL’s commitment to political neutrality stated in Article 3 of the INTERPOL Constitution. Awarding an unlawful military junta that lacks domestic and international recognition with legitimacy would violate this article, and amount to a partisan intervention that would embolden the military to continue to commit international crimes with total impunity.
Instead of legitimizing the military junta through INTERPOL membership, we appeal to you to uphold international law by supporting the ongoing investigation at the International Criminal Court concerning crimes of genocide against the Rohingya, and future investigations, to bring all perpetrators of Myanmar atrocities to account. The Myanmar military must be recognized as a terrorist organization, not recognized as representatives of the Myanmar people who are the very victims of the junta’s daily barrage of violence that INTERPOL aims to protect.
We therefore call on INTERPOL to:
- Ban the Myanmar military junta from INTERPOL, including the 89th General Assembly.
- Support efforts to bring Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing, Lt Gen Than Hlaing and all other perpetrators of atrocity crimes to justice by identifying and arresting suspects.
- Take all measures available to prevent the Myanmar military junta’s continued acts of terrorism by disrupting terrorism movement and tracing and disrupting their international revenue and arms supply networks.
At this fragile and crucial time in Myanmar, INTERPOL and their member countries must act in the interests of the safety and security of Myanmar people, victims and survivors of crime and in accordance with international law and norms.
- 8888 Generation (New Zealand)
- Action Committee for Democracy Development
- Activists Group for Human Rights ‘BARAM’
- Albany Karen Community, Albany
- All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
- All Burma Democratic Face in New Zealand
- ALL FOR LITTLE ONE
- Alliance for Gender Inclusion in Peace Process (AGIPP)
- Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM)
- Arizona Kachin Community
- ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights – APHR
- Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
- Asian Dignity Initiative
- Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
- Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
- Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
- Auckland Kachin Community NZ
- Auckland Zomi Community
- Blood Money Campaign
- Boat People SOS
- Burma Action Ireland
- Burma Campaign UK
- Burma Human Rights Network
- Burma Rohingya Organisation UK
- Burmese Relief Center - Japan
- Burmese Rohingya Welfare Organisation New Zealand
- Burmese Women’s Union
- Calgary Karen Community Association (CKCA)
- California Kachin Community
- Campaign for a New Myanmar
- Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights Committee (CENTRAL)
- Chin Community of Auckland
- Christian Solidarity Worldwide
- Citizen of Burma Award-New Zealand
- CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
- Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA)
- Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
- Committee for Religions Freedom in Vietnam
- CRPH & NUG Supporters Austria
- CRPH & NUG Supporters Ireland
- CRPH Funding Ireland
- Dallas Kachin Community
- Decency & Clarity
- DEEKU-Karenni Community of Amarillo, TX
- Democracy for Myanmar - Working Group (NZ)
- Democracy, Peace and Women’s Organization – DPW
- Dongjadong Sarangbang
- Edmonton Karen Community Youth Organization
- Education Community Woorijari Social Cooperation
- Equality Myanmar
- European Karen Network
- Federal Myanmar Benevolence Group (NZ)
- Federation of General Workers Myanmar
- Federation of Workers' Union of the Burmese Citizen in Japan
- Freedom House
- Future Light Center
- Future Thanlwin
- Gangbuk Housing Welfare Center
- Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
- Gender Equality Network
- Georgia Kachin Community
- Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy (GM4MD)
- Global Myanmar Spring Revolution
- Gwangju Asia sisterhood
- Gyeonggi Association of Self-Sufficiency Promotion Center
- Houston Kachin Community
- Human Rights Foundation of Monland
- Incorporated Organization Shilcheon Bulgyo
- Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
- Info Birmanie
- Initiatives for International Dialogue
- International Campaign for the Rohingya
- International Child Rights Center
- International Karen Organisation
- International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
- Iowa Kachin Community
- JPIC of Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill
- Junta Denouncing Committee Korea
- Justice For Myanmar
- Kachin American Community (Portland – Vancouver)
- Kachin Community of Indiana
- Kachin Community of USA
- Kachin Gender Star Group
- Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
- Kaesong Tourism Center
- Kansas Karenni community, KS
- Karen American Association of Milwaukee, WI
- Karen Association of Huron, SD
- Karen Community of Akron, OH
- Karen Community of Canada (KCC)
- Karen Community of Czech Republic
- Karen Community of Finland
- Karen Community of Hamilton
- Karen Community of Iowa, IA
- Karen Community of Ireland
- Karen Community of Israel
- Karen Community of Kansas City
- Karen Community of Kitchener & Waterloo
- Karen Community of Leamington K
- Karen Community of Lethbridge
- Karen Community of London
- Karen Community of Minnesota, MN
- Karen Community of North Carolina
- Karen Community of Ottawa
- Karen Community of Regina
- Karen Community of Saskatoon
- Karen Community of Thunderbay
- Karen Community of Toronto
- Karen Community of Windsor
- Karen Community of Winnipeg
- Karen Community Society of British Columbia (KCSBC)
- Karen Human Rights Group
- Karen Organization of America
- Karen Organization of Illinois, IL
- Karen Thai Group
- Karen Women’s Organization
- Karen Youth Education Pathways
- Karen Youth Networks
- Karen Youth of Norway
- Karen Youth of Toronto
- Karen Youth Organization
- Karenni Civil Society Network
- Karenni Community of Arizona, AZ
- Karenni Community of Arkensas, AK
- Karenni Community of Austin, TX
- Karenni Community of Bowling Green, KY
- Karenni Community of Buffalo, NY
- Karenni Community of Chicago, IL
- Karenni Community of Colorado, CO
- Karenni Community of Dallas, TX
- Karenni community of Des Moines, IA
- Karenni Community of Florida, FL
- Karenni Community of Fort Worth, TX
- Karenni Community of Georgia, GA
- Karenni Community of Houston, TX
- Karenni Community of Idaho, ID
- Karenni Community of Indianapolis, IN
- Karenni Community of Massachusetts, MA
- Karenni Community of Michigan, MI
- Karenni Community of Minnesota, MN
- Karenni Community of Missouri, MO
- Karenni Community of North Carolina, NC
- Karenni Community of Portland, OR
- Karenni Community of Rockford, IL
- Karenni Community of San Antonio, TX
- Karenni Community of Sioux Falls, SD
- Karenni Community of Utah, UT
- Karenni Community of Utica, NY
- Karenni Community of Washington, WA
- Karenni Community of Wisconsin, WI
- Karenni Human Rights Group
- Karenni National Women’s Organization
- Karenni Society New Zealand
- Karenni Society of Omaha, NE
- Karenni-American Association
- Keng Tung Youth
- Kentucky Kachin Community
- Kijamii Table
- Kim Wan Sik (MR)
- Korea Christian Solidarity for Democracy and Human Rights in Myanmar
- Korea Karen Organization
- Korea Karen Youth Organization
- Korea Women's Associations United (KWAU)
- Korean House for International Solidarity
- Korean Solidarity for Overseas Community Organization
- Let’s Help Each Other
- Louisiana Kachin Community
- Maryland Kachin Community
- May18 Seoul Memorial Society
- Metta Campaign Mandalay
- Michigan Kachin Community
- Migrant Health Association in Korea WeFriends
- Milk Tea Alliance (Friend For Myanmar)
- MINBYUN - Lawyers for a Democratic Society International Solidarity Committee
- Minnesota Kachin Community
- Myanmar Accountability Project
- MYANMAR Action Supporters
- Myanmar Community Austria
- Myanmar Democratic Force (Denmark)
- Myanmar Engineers - New Zealand
- Myanmar Family Community in Ireland
- Myanmar Gonye (New Zealand)
- Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)
- Myanmar Students Organization
- Myanmar Students' Union in New Zealand
- National Clergy Conference for Justice and Peace
- NeT Organization
- Network for Advocacy Action
- Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma (ND-Burma)
- New Bodhisattva Network
- New York Kachin Community
- New Zealand Doctors for NUG
- New Zealand Karen Association
- New Zealand Zo Community Inc.
- No Business With Genocide
- North Carolina Kachin Community
- NUG & CRPH Supporter Denmark
- Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica
- Olive Organization
- Omaha Kachin Community
- Organization of Social Welfare Service Bokumjari
- Oversea Karen Organization Japan
- Overseas Mon Association. New Zealand
- Pa-O Youth Organization
- Pennsylvania Kachin Community
- People’s Initiatives for Development Alternatives
- People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)
- Progressive 3.0
- Progressive Korea
- Progressive Voice
- Pyithu Gonye (New Zealand)
- RCSD/FSS Chiang Mai University
- Rvwang Community Association New Zealand
- SAMYANG CITIZENS NETWORK
- SARANGBANG Group for Human Rights
- Save and Care Organization for Ethnic Women at Border Areas
- Save Myanmar Fundraising Group (New Zealand)
- Shan Community (New Zealand)
- Shan MATA
- Sisters 2 Sisters
- Sitt Nyein Pann Foundation
- Social Action for Community and Development (SACD)
- Solidarity for Another World
- South Carolina Kachin Community
- Support Group for Democracy in Myanmar (Netherlands)
- Supporters group for migrant workers in Korea
- Suwon Migrants Center
- Swedish Burma Committee
- Synergy – Social Harmony Organization
- Ta’ang Women’s Organization
- Ta'ang Legal Aid
- Tanintharyi Women Network
- Tennessee Kachin Community
- The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
- The People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-Center)
- Union of Karenni State Youth
- US Campaign for Burma
- Utica Karen Community, NY
- Virginia Kachin Community
- Washington Kachin Community
- West Virginia Kachin Community
- With Gilbut Welfare Foundation
- Women Advocacy Coalition – Myanmar (WAC-M)
- Women’s League of Burma
- Women’s Peace Network
- Youth of Kim Dae-jung Foundation
- Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP)
Civic space in Myanmar is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor
Human rights at risk for ASEAN citizens
By Ichal Supriadi (Asia Democracy Network) and Josef Benedict (CIVICUS)
As the 10 heads of state from ASEAN gather for the group’s latest summit in Singapore this week to discuss security, trade, and tensions in the South China Sea, the state of human rights and democracy in the region will once again be sidelined.
Read on: The Jakarta Post
Myanmar: civil society groups raise concern over ASEAN’s approach to the ongoing human rights crisis
To: ASEAN LeadersH.E. Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Prime Minister of Brunei DarussalamH.E. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of CambodiaH.E. Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of IndonesiaH.E. Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic RepublicH.E. Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob, Prime Minister of MalaysiaH.E. Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, Jr., President of the Republic of the PhilippinesH.E. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of the Republic of SingaporeH.E. Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of ThailandH.E. Phạm Minh Chính, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Subject: Open letter from civil society organizations concerning ASEAN’s approach to the ongoing political, human rights and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar
We, the 457 undersigned Myanmar, regional and international civil society organizations, call on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (‘ASEAN’) to cease inviting all political and non-political representatives of the Myanmar military junta to all summits and meetings, and revise the mandate of the Special Envoy to Myanmar. We further call on ASEAN under the Indonesian Chairship, as a regional bloc and as individual states, to move beyond the failed Five-Point Consensus (‘5PC’), enable effective humanitarian assistance, and publicly recognize the National Unity Government.
For the past 20 months since the failed coup, ASEAN has been largely ineffective in responding to the escalating crisis in Myanmar. ASEAN’s “dialogue” demonstrates a selective approach to the 5PC and yields no results to stop the ongoing crisis in Myanmar. Despite being put on notice for non-compliance with the 5PC in a joint communique in August 2022, the junta has continued committing atrocity crimes against the Myanmar people. Just one month after the warning, the junta’s airstrikes on a school in Sagaing Region killed 11 children.
The exclusion of the junta from ASEAN Summits in October 2021 and November 2022 was a step in the right direction. We also note positive stances taken by Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore, and welcome the bloc’s statement in July 2022. Nevertheless, any engagement with the junta is in breach of the ASEAN Charter. The crimes that are being committed by the Myanmar military amount to acts of a terrorist organization under international legal definitions and Myanmar’s domestic laws. The Myanmar military stands accused of atrocity crimes at the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, and under a universal jurisdiction case in Argentina. We are alarmed that this illegal entity holds sway in ASEAN’s actions.
Civic space in Myanmar is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor
Myanmar’s presence at the ASEAN Summit
To: ASEAN Leaders
H.E. Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Prime Minister of Brunei
H.E Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia
H.E Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia
H.E Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of Laos
H.E Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri, Prime Minister of Malaysia
H.E Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Philippines
H.E Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore
H.E Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand
H.E. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Vietnam
CC: ASEAN Dialogue Partners
H.E. Will Nankervis, Ambassador of Australia to ASEAN
H.E. Diedrah Kelly, Ambassador of Canada to ASEAN
H.E. Deng Xijun, Ambassador of China to ASEAN
H.E. Igor Driesmans, Ambassador of the European Union to ASEAN
H.E. Shri Jayant N. Khobragade, Ambassador of India to ASEAN
H.E. Chiba Akira, Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN
H.E. Lim Sungnam, Ambassador of Korea to ASEAN
H.E. Pam Dunn, Ambassador of New Zealand to ASEAN
H.E. Alexander Ivanov, Ambassador of Russia to ASEAN
H.E. Melissa A. Brown, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., U.S. Mission to ASEAN
We, the undersigned organisations, write to you to urge you not to extend an invitation to Myanmar's military junta to the upcoming ASEAN Summit on 25 to 28 October because of the military’s blatant disregard for the Five Point Consensus agreed at the ASEAN Leaders' Meeting and continuing refusal to cooperate with ASEAN towards its implementation.
We welcome the remarks made by the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia and Malaysia who questioned whether the junta should be invited to the Summit and urge the other Member States to come to the same conclusion.
ASEAN's credibility depends on its ability to act decisively and bring an end to the Myanmar military junta’s relentless violence against the people of Myanmar. A lack of decisiveness and consequences for the military’s total contempt for the ASEAN’s leaders' agreement risks undermining the bloc’s legitimacy as a key regional player that can bring peace and stability.
On 24 April 2021, the leaders of nine Member States and the Myanmar junta, represented by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, agreed on a consensus that included the "immediate cessation of violence", constructive dialogue among all parties, the appointment of an ASEAN special envoy on Myanmar, humanitarian assistance to be delivered to the country, and for the Special Envoy and delegation to visit Myanmar to "meet with all parties concerned".
Myanmar's junta has failed to respect this consensus on every single count.
Since the Myanmar junta agreed to immediately cease the violence on 25th April till the end of September there have been 3,534 attacks either on civilians by the military or armed clashes that failed to protect civilians - that’s an 840% increase from the same period in 2020 (376). Thousands have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety. Violent acts amounting to crimes against humanity have been documented. It is clear that junta leader Min Aung Hlaing will not stop in his attempts to crush the democratic opposition to his rule.
The military junta has also continually opposed any form of dialogue. Zaw Min Tun, the military's spokesman, recently said that dialogue between the ASEAN Special Envoy and the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the National Unity Government and People's Defence Forces could not take place because they have been declared by the junta as "illegal organizations". The junta's stalling tactics also contributed to the delay in announcing Brunei's Foreign Affairs Minister II Erywan Yusof as ASEAN's special envoy to Myanmar.
While we note aid commitments made to the AHA Centre and delivered through the Myanmar Red Cross, it is important to recall that the Myanmar military’s own actions are creating the current humanitarian crisis engulfing the country. According to the United Nations (UN), three million people require assistance. That number has tripled over the last eight months. In addition to that, there are now 20 million people living below the poverty line – nearly half the population. Yet, the military junta is weaponizing humanitarian aid; blocking the distribution of supplies, placing travel restrictions on humanitarian workers, hoarding and destroying aid, and attacking civilians, health and humanitarian aid workers.
It is clear that Myanmar's military has displayed a flagrant lack of respect for ASEAN, and in fact since the coup, it appears to have used the bloc to try to gain legitimacy while at the same time increasing its brutal reprisals against the people.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also warned that the opportunity to prevent the Myanmar junta from entrenching its rule could be narrowing. He has called for unified regional and international action to prevent the crisis from becoming a large-scale conflict and multi-faceted “catastrophe” in Southeast Asia and beyond.
It is time for ASEAN to act decisively. This starts by denying the Myanmar junta the legitimacy it craves, and which has been rejected constantly by the people of Myanmar. The junta has refused to cooperate with regional and international neighbors, failed to stand by the commitments it has made, and exposed to the world not only its barbaric brutality but also an inability to deal with the deepening social and economic disaster currently taking place in the country, which includes the dereliction of public health services amid the global pandemic.
Reiterating the remarks of Malaysia and Indonesia's foreign ministers, a firm united response by the other Member States is required. The Myanmar junta’s actions must not be accepted as “business as usual.” They are endangering the stability, prosperity, peace and health of the region.
We therefore call on ASEAN leaders to deny the head of the Myanmar military junta a seat at the table and display to him that his callous disregard for the people, and his regional neighbors, does not come free of consequences.
1. A Lin Thitsar
2. A Lin Yaung Pan Daing
3. A Naga Alin
4. Action Committee for Democracy Development
5. All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
6. ALTSEAN Burma
7. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
8. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
9. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
10. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
11. Backpack Health Workers Team
12. Burma Medical Association
13. Burmese Women’s Union
14. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
15. Democracy for Ethnic Minorities Organization
16. Democracy, Peace and Women's Organization – DPW
17. Equality Myanmar
19. Freedom and Labor Action Group
20. Future Light Center
21. Future Thanlwin
22. Generation Wave
23. Human Rights Foundation of Monland
24. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
25. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN)
26. Karen Human Rights Group
27. Karen Peace Support Network
28. Karen River Watch (KRW)
29. Karen Women’s Organization
30. Karenni Civil Society Network
31. Karenni Human Rights Group
32. Karenni National Women’s Organization
33. Keng Tung Youth
34. Let’s Help Each Other
35. Metta Campaign Mandalay
36. Myanmar Peace Bikers
37. Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)
38. Network for Advocacy Action Tanintharyi Women Network
39. Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma (ND-Burma)
40. Olive Organization
41. Progressive Voice
42. Save and Care Organization for Ethnic Women at Border Areas
43. Save the Salween Network (SSN)
44. Shan MATA
45. Southern Youth Development Organization
46. Spring Revolution Interfaith Network
47. Synergy - Social Harmony Organization
48. Tanintharyi MATA
49. Thint Myat Lo Thu Myar
50. Union of Karenni State Youth
51. Women Advocacy Coalition – Myanmar
52. Women’s League of Burma
1. Burmese Women's Union (BWU)
2. Kachin Women's Association-Thailand (KWAT)
3. Karen Women's Organization (KWO)
4. Karenni National Women's Organization (KNWO)
5. Kayan Women's Organization (KyWO)
6. Kuki Women's Human Rights Organization (KWHRO)
7. Lahu Women's Organization (LWO)
8. Pa-O Women's Union (PWU)
9. Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN)
10. Ta'ang Women's Organization (TWO)
11. Tavoy Women's Union (TWU)
12. Women for Justice (WJ)
Civic space in Myanmar is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor