National, Back Page

Int’l community should act to stop violence in Myanmar: IPI

Published : 02 Nov 2022 09:50 PM | Updated : 03 Nov 2022 12:46 PM

International actors should help Myanmar to put an end to the violence and human rights violations perpetrated by the military junta since the coup in February 2021, put the country’s military under civilian control and establish a federal democratic system.

The International Parliamentary Inquiry (IPI) into the global response to the crisis in Myanmar said this in its final report published on Wednesday,

“It is imperative that the international community changes course on Myanmar as soon as possible, and those countries claiming to support democracy and human rights in the country live up to their stated commitments,” said Heidi Hautala, Vice President of the European Parliament and IPI Chair.

They should begin with recognizing the National Unity Government of Myanmar (NUG) as what it is: the legitimate authority in the country; impose effective and coordinated sanctions on the junta, and address the terrible humanitarian crisis afflicting Myanmar, Hautala said.

The report, titled “Time is not on our side”: The Failed International Response to the Myanmar Coup, contains an analysis of the situation in Myanmar since the military takeover, as well as the reaction of international actors.

Finding that the global response to the crisis has fallen woefully short of international obligations and standards, the IPI offers a set of recommendations to move forward and help the Myanmar people in their struggle against military dictatorship.

The IPI is an initiative launched by ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) in June 2022. Its Committee is formed by eight parliamentarians from seven different countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe who are appalled by the situation in Myanmar since the military takeover.

Since the coup, the Myanmar military has committed acts which the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said may amount to “crimes against humanity and war crimes” in order to consolidate its power against widespread popular resistance to its rule, throwing the country into chaos, and leading it to the brink of becoming a failed state.

The IPI Committee has held a total of six public oral hearings online, as well as several private hearings, with dozens of stakeholders and experts, and has received dozens of written submissions.

Two of its members conducted a fact-finding mission to the Thai-Myanmar border in August 2022.

The Inquiry has analyzed the response to the crisis in Myanmar of a wide variety of international actors, but has paid particular attention to the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in which Myanmar is a member.

In April 2021, ASEAN member states and the Myanmar junta, led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, signed the Five-Point Consensus to put an end to the violence, seek a negotiated solution to the conflict and address the humanitarian crisis. Since then, many countries have expressed their support for the agreement and largely deferred to ASEAN to solve the crisis.

“It has become abundantly clear that the Five Point Consensus has been an utter failure. General Min Aung Hlaing has shown an absolute contempt for the agreement he signed and for ASEAN’s member states, and the regional group has been unable to adopt a stance to put pressure on the Junta,” said Charles Santiago, former Member of Parliament (MP) in Malaysia, APHR Chairperson and IPI Committee Member.

Meanwhile, Santiago said, most of the international community has hidden behind ASEAN in order to avoid doing anything meaningful. “It is past time that ASEAN ditches the Five Point Consensus and urgently rethinks its approach to the crisis in Myanmar.”

In the latest meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers on Myanmar, held on 27 October, the regional group agreed to “reaffirmed the importance and relevance of the Five-Point Consensus” while underscoring “the need to further strengthen its implementation through concrete, practical and time-bound actions.”

“ASEAN is not acting with the urgency that the situation in Myanmar demands. The group should have started to put real pressure on the junta and engage the NUG long ago. It is unacceptable that ASEAN continue to shirk their responsibilities to the people of Myanmar, and continue adopting half-hearted measures that only serve to embolden Min Aung Hlaing and his junta,” added Santiago.

International passivity has encouraged a sense of impunity within the Myanmar military, which most recently launched an airstrike on a multitude attending a music festival in Kachin state, killing at least 60 civilians.

By the most conservative estimates, the junta has killed at least 2,404 Myanmar citizens, and arrested over 16,000 people, according to a message received from Bangkok.

The violence has also displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes, and the number of internally displaced people in the country now has reached 1.3 million, a terrible record in Myanmar’s history.

Many interviewees during the IPI oral hearings described in vivid detail the humanitarian catastrophe afflicting the Myanmar people, as well as how the military junta is hijacking and weaponizing the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

“Myanmar is suffering a tragedy words cannot describe. The global community should urgently step up the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and it should work with local civil society organizations that know the terrain well, have ample experience and are trusted by the population,” said Mercy Barends, APHR Board Member and IPI Committee Member.

Related Topics