We, the 765 undersigned Myanmar, regional and international organizations, are gravely concerned by the outcome of the Consultative Meeting on ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar that puts the military junta in control of humanitarian aid distribution in Myanmar. Our organizations believe that this decision will enable the military junta to weaponize humanitarian aid to gain legitimacy and commit more human rights atrocities against the people of the country.
We urge ASEAN to redirect course in the informal meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers that is being held ahead of the ASEAN – US Special Summit and meet with the National Unity Government (NUG), Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs), and local civil society organisations to develop cross-border humanitarian assistance delivered by trusted local humanitarian and community-based organisation.
We are dismayed that the meeting initiated and held by Cambodia as ASEAN Chair 2022 on 6 May 2022 only engaged with the Myanmar junta’s Task Force led by the State Administration Council (SAC). The meeting excluded the presence of the National Unity Government, formed by elected representatives of the 2020 elections, as well as civil society and EAOs. Under the pressure of the Myanmar junta, the regional bloc also disinvited the United Nations Special Envoy to Myanmar, H.E. Noeleen Heyzer, to the meeting, despite a false claim made by the Cambodian government indicating her presence was among the stakeholders that attended.
We are concerned that ASEAN, under the Cambodia Chairship, while opening its door to the military junta, has been continuously reluctant to engage with the NUG and other related parties, in direct contradiction to the Five-Point Consensus (5PC) agreed by the ASEAN which calls for inclusive dialogue. We previously condemned the visit made by Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia and the current ASEAN Envoy to Myanmar, undertaken without agreement from other ASEAN leaders, to meet with the junta leader but not with the NUG and detained President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the civil disobedience movement, and ethnic armed groups. Five months after Cambodia’s ‘rogue diplomacy’, ASEAN continues to be exclusionary.
We are alarmed by the regional bloc’s decision to allow the military junta-led Task Force to make decisions on how aid is delivered to Myanmar through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre). Given junta’s ongoing attacks against aid workers and civilians, we are appalled that ASEAN continues to regard the military junta-led Task Force capable of delivering aid to all communities in Myanmar, including EAO areas. Junta’s promises are politically motivated promises that should not be trusted given the non-compliance record of the junta to the ASEAN 5PC after over a year since the agreement was made.
The decision of ASEAN to forge ahead with its plan to deliver humanitarian assistance with Myanmar military junta-led Task Force ignores the calls made by the people of Myanmar and civil society organisations worldwide that urge the international community to prioritise the provision of cross-border humanitarian aid through local civil society and humanitarian organisations without the junta’s intervention. We reiterate our position that no meaningful solution will be generated by ASEAN if the regional bloc keeps excluding all related parties, including namely the NUG, UN Special Envoy on Myanmar, and civil society. The decision will only bring regress and risks ASEAN aiding and abetting the military’s atrocities on the ground.
We noted that ASEAN Foreign Ministers are holding an informal meeting today on 11 May 2022, prior to the ASEAN – US Special Summit in Washington DC, to discuss the implementation of ASEAN 5PC. We urge the ASEAN and its leaders to:
- Immediately review and reconsider the decision made in the Consultative Meeting on ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar
- Immediately and effectively suspend the military junta and its representatives from any strategic meeting of ASEAN for its non-compliance to the 5PC, particularly pertaining to provision of humanitarian aid
- Conduct dialogue with the NUG and EAOs, and local civil society organisations to develop cross-border humanitarian assistance delivered by trusted local humanitarian and community based organisation
- Conduct dialogue with the UN Special Envoy to synergise efforts to address human rights and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar
- Review and amend the role and appointment mechanism of the ASEAN Special Envoy so that the mandate can assure its representation for ASEAN and effective coordination with all stakeholders in support of the will of the people of Myanmar.
Lastly, we specifically call on the ASEAN founding members, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore to move beyond the 5PC as it has failed to bring progress. The leaders must prove their commitment to uphold the will of the people of Myanmar to achieve peace and democracy, and to hold the military junta accountable for grave human rights violations.
For more information, please contact: Khin Ohmar, Progressive Voice, firstname.lastname@example.org