JAKARTA, INDONESIA: Southeast Asian parliamentarians attending the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) General Assembly here have been urged to advocate for effective actions based on human rights principles, aimed at addressing the intensifying crisis in Myanmar.
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights Board Member and Malaysian Member of Parliament Wong Chen, addressing the assembly, underlined the significance of the forum as a platform for regional lawmakers to collaborate on crucial issues, specifically the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.
“The AIPA General Assembly is an important forum in which lawmakers from across the region can come together and work together on key issues, including the ongoing crisis in Myanmar,” Wong Chen said. He emphasized the responsibility of the attending representatives in influencing their governments to end the relentless suffering and death in Myanmar.
The AIPA General Assembly, taking place in Jakarta from 5th to 11th August, is themed “Responsive Parliaments for a Stable and Prosperous ASEAN.” The first plenary session was held today, with committee meetings scheduled for the 8th and the final plenary session on the 9 August.
Wong Chen further cautioned against relying on the Myanmar junta, given their persistent disregard for the Five-Point Consensus, a critical framework for peacebuilding in the region. He urged representatives to persuade their governments to engage with the National Unity Government, ethnic revolution organizations, and civil society groups in Myanmar.
Despite growing tendencies among ASEAN leaders to engage with the junta, as evidenced by Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s recent remarks, Wong Chen warned that this engagement could be manipulated as military propaganda and present the pro-democracy movement as an impediment to peace.
“We urge lawmakers to call on their governments to continue working towards holding the junta accountable for its widespread and systematic crimes against its own people,” said Wong Chen.
He also appealed to Indonesian lawmakers, as the current ASEAN chair, to expedite a comprehensive review of the Five Point Consensus, emphasizing the urgency of the situation. “Time is running out for Indonesia to make a real impact on the fate of Myanmar and leave a lasting legacy for its chairmanship,” Wong Chen added.
Myanmar has seen a significant surge in violence since a failed coup attempt on 21 February 2021.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reported that the ensuing military crackdowns have resulted in over 3,850 deaths. 24,100 people have been detained, of which 19,710 are currently in custody, and 6,976 are serving sentences.
Myanmar’s military junta extended a state of emergency for the fourth time on 1 August, 2023, delaying the elections they had promised to hold after their takeover.
Moreover, on 2 August, the military pardoned Aung San Suu Kyi in five of the 19 charges brought against her, reducing her 33-year jail sentence by six years. Critics view this as an attempt to restart stalled diplomatic efforts.