ASEAN urged to address Myanmar crises, shun army rulers

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) urgently needs to address Myanmar’s “dire” human rights and humanitarian crises, which are being compounded by a COVID-19 health emergency and recent flooding, rights groups say, warning the regional grouping to avoid giving legitimacy to the country’s military .

“Little progress has been made” by ASEAN since it reached an agreement with Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Hlaing in April that called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities”, the appointment of a mediator to initiate talks, and the provision of humanitarian assistance through ASEAN’s humanitarian coordination office, FORUM-ASIA and Progressive Voice said on Wednesday in a joint statement.

It has been six months since Min Aung Hlaing led a coup in Myanmar on February 1, preventing the country’s elected parliament members from forming a new government while jailing many of its most senior leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

On Sunday, Min Aung Hlaing prime minister and promised to hold free elections in 2023 – later than promised when he seized power – a move swiftly condemned by the international community and Myanmar’s civilian politicians as a tactic to stall the return of the country to democratic rule.

The violence that followed the military coup has left more than 900 people, mostly civilians, dead, with more than 7,000 arrested and almost 5,500 detained, according to the human rights organisation Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).