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ASEAN Special Envoy Office meets with resistance groups

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Ngurah Swajaya, the Head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Special Envoy Office on Myanmar, held a meeting on July 3 with leaders from the Sagaing Forum, the Bamar People’s Liberation Army (BPLA), General Strike Committee (GSC), and the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF). Representatives from student unions, human rights groups, and ethnic nationality youth organizations also attended to have their voices heard. 

Several vented their frustrations over the failure of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus (5-PC) to stop the military from committing acts of violence against the people. Naypyidaw agreed to the 5-PC to immediately halt all violence in April 2021. Evidence of military attacks since then, including airstrikes, extrajudicial killings, and arson were presented to Swajaya. They pointed out that the ASEAN one-year rotating chairmanship is too short-term for the Special Envoy Office to be able to address the political crisis in Burma. 

Those in attendance called on ASEAN to work with the U.N., to cease engaging with the military regime, and move beyond the 5-PC. They want to see sanctions to limit the military’s supply of arms and aviation fuel to put an end to indiscriminate attacks on civilians. The Special Envoy Office on Myanmar has yet to establish official communication channels with the National Unity Government (NUG), Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations (EROs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and other resistance forces. 

ASEAN was urged to divert its Cyclone Mocha relief efforts from Yangon to the NUG, EROs, and CSOs. The military continues to prevent international organizations from making aid deliveries to Rakhine State and other cyclone-impacted communities. The Border News Agency reported that there was no evidence that humanitarian aid from ASEAN and other countries in the region had reached cyclone survivors.

A “Five-Point Political Roadmap” for a federal democratic Burma was presented during the meeting. The five points include eradicating all forms of dictatorship, ending chauvinism, replacing the 2008 constitution, building a federal democratic union, and releasing all political prisoners. It would repeal the 1982 Citizenship Law that renders Rohingya stateless and grant the country’s states and regions full autonomy. It guarantees equal rights for women, ethnic nationalities, and LGBTQI+. 

Indonesia is the current chair of ASEAN and has been quietly engaging with different stakeholders in Burma. Jakarta is among the members of ASEAN that have advocated for a stronger stance against Naypyidaw. Swajaya is reported to be serving as the de-facto ASEAN Special Envoy on Myanmar. He previously served as the Indonesian ambassador to Cambodia and Singapore. The ASEAN Chair will rotate to Laos in 2024, which sent its foreign minister to a meeting with the military regime hosted by the Thai caretaker government in Pattaya last month.

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