- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations met on Tuesday to discuss Myanmar’s military coup.
- The military coup took place on February 1, and there’s been widespread violence and protests since.
- ASEAN traditionally has a policy of non-interference with its member nations.
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As Myanmar’s military coup enters its second month, member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are struggling with how — and if — to intervene.
The southeast Asian ten-member bloc convened a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss the coup and the escalating violence in Myanmar, which is a member.
ASEAN maintains a policy of non-interference among its member states, though Singapore’s foreign minister, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, conceded that the coup had damaged the region during a television interview on Monday.
“Instability in any corner of Southeast Asia threatens and affects the rest of us,” he said, according to Reuters, adding that the coup has caused “grievous damage to Myanmar’s society and economy.”
As the meeting took place over video conference, police fired stun grenades into a crowd in Yangon, Myanmar’s main city, Reuters reported. In the Sanchaung area of the city a police sniper was captured in prone position aiming at a crowd.
Nearly two dozen anti-coup protesters have been killed since February 1, when National League for Democracy leaders were put under house arrest. President Win Myint, who was elected in November, has been charged with breaching the Natural Disaster Management Law by allegedly violating COVID-19 health restrictions, while civilian NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi was charged with being in possession of “illegal communication equipment.”
Yesterday the junta announced new charges against Suu Kyi, accusing her of causing “fear and alarm,” an offense that carries with it a two-year prison sentence.
ASEAN has called for the immediate release of Suu Kyi.
Dr. Balakrishnan said Myanmar’s military must talk to her to end the crisis.
“They need to talk, and we need to help bring them together,” he said, Al Jazeera reported.
Many who oppose the coup are appalled that ASEAN agreed to meet with members of the junta, especially after Myanmar’s legislature, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, declared the Myanmar military to be a “terrorist group.”
In a letter published Monday, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw said it condemned “in the strongest terms all atrocities and acts committed by the putschists.” Putsch is another term for coup.
A group of alumni from ASEAN’s student program also issued a letter strongly discouraging the group from “inviting the terrorist on any ASEAN mechanisms,” over concern that it would legitimize the junta.
Dr. Sasa, the envoy to the United Nations by the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, urged ASEAN to avoid granting legitimacy to the coup.
“I’m requesting for the international community to stand with the 54 million people in Burma and not work with the six military coup leaders,” he said, according to the Myanmar Peace Monitor.
ASEAN’s member nations are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.