Myanmar: civil society groups raise concern over ASEAN’s approach to the ongoing human rights crisis

To: ASEAN Leaders

H.E. Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Prime Minister of Brunei Darussalam
H.E. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia
H.E. Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia
H.E. Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
H.E. Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob, Prime Minister of Malaysia
H.E. Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, Jr., President of the Republic of the Philippines
H.E. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore
H.E. Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand
H.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

Your Excellencies,

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