ASEAN Delivers Toothless Warning to Myanmar

Pact tells General Hlaing to put immediate end to killing

By: B A Hamzah

The unscheduled April 24 Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Jakarta to discuss Myanmar’s bloody coup delivered nothing more than a soft slap on the wrist to Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, telling him to end the killing.

Since February, the general (above, left) has murdered more than 700 protesters. For someone who seldom attends ASEAN summits, he showed up. Many are condemning the 10-member pact for legitimizing his presence, giving the impression they are condoning the atrocities committed by soldiers under his command. It was, however, the first time the members hauled up a government leader for a dressing-down.

Nonetheless, said Phil Robertson, the deputy director for Asia for Human Rights Watch, “The lack of a clear timeline for action, and ASEAN's well-known weakness in implementing the decisions and plans that it issues, are real concerns that no one should overlook. There is a strong need now to continue the pressure on the Myanmar military junta, expanding the targeted economic sanctions on top junta leaders and military-owned companies, and going after the oil and gas revenue that continues to fill the junta's coffers.”

Certainly, there have been plenty of atrocities, however, and not just recently. In 2017, for example, the same junta expelled, killed, tortured, raped, and burned down the homes of thousands of ethnic Rohingya whose ancestors had been living in Myanmar for centuries. Burmese claim the Rohingya, minority Muslims in a predominantly Buddhist state, arrived during the British colonial period…

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