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Protesters take part in a demonstration against last year’s military coup in Myanmar. File photo: AFP

Myanmar crisis international inquiry to present report to Malaysia, urge more Asean action

  • Lawmakers are pushing for Asean to do more to counter violence since last year’s military coup that has already seen more than 2,000 people die
  • Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah recently lashed out at Asean for its lack of urgency dealing with the issue
An international parliamentary inquiry on the global response to the Myanmar crisis is expected to present its report Tuesday to Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, who has publicly criticised Asean, in a bid to push the bloc to take a stronger position on the deadly violence that followed the military coup.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) last year barred Myanmar’s top junta officials from attending key meetings over their failure to honour a “five-point consensus” peace plan they had agreed to.

Still, the 10-nation bloc has since come under criticism for doing little to stop spiralling violence that has claimed more than 2,000 civilian lives since the military takeover in February 2021.

Members of the new inquiry committee, convened by the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), are expected to present their findings to Saifuddin at a meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Is Malaysia ‘setting a precedent’ for Asean by meeting Myanmar’s NUG?

Chaired by European Union parliamentarian Heidi Hautala, the committee also includes APHR Chairman Charles Santiago, US congresswoman Ilhan Omar and elected representatives from Indonesia, Gambia, South Africa and Thailand.

“The report will basically show how the international community has failed to address the dire situation in Myanmar,” Santiago said. “Once we hand over the report, we hope the minister will present it at the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting for deliberation on the following day.”

Santiago said the report would, among others, recommend that any effort to broker a solution to the Myanmar crisis must include representatives of the National Unity Government (NUG), a government-in-exile formed by elected lawmakers ousted by the military.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah. He is expected to receive a special report on the Myanmar crisis on the sidelines of a UN meeting in New York on Tuesday. File photo: AP

Saifuddin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last week, the Malaysian minister lashed out at Asean for its lack of urgency in dealing with the situation in Myanmar, stressing that the issue cannot be left purely for discussion at scheduled meetings while civilians continue to die in the conflict.

In a separate statement, the independent Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M) urged the UN General Assembly to recognise NUG-appointee Kyaw Moe Tun as Myanmar’s representative to the UN to ensure the country is represented at UN forums, including at the Human Rights Council (HRC).

SAC-M founding member Marzuki Darusman said there was “no justification” for the UN, especially the HRC, to deny Myanmar’s right “to be represented by its legitimate government in its greatest hour of need”.

“Myanmar is in an acute human rights crisis. It is on the agenda every time the Human Rights Council meets. Yet, for more than a year, the Council has refused to allow a legitimate representative of the Myanmar people to participate, despite the clear legal guidance on the matter,” Marzuki said.


Myanmar junta reportedly breaks ceasefire with armed militia

Myanmar junta reportedly breaks ceasefire with armed militia
Myanmar’s junta has mobilised a sustained crackdown on public dissent since it ousted the civilian government last year, when it claimed voter fraud in a 2020 general election that saw the military lose ground in a landslide win for democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).

UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said in June that there had been more than 2,000 confirmed civilian deaths due to the violence, and called on the international community to do more to help resolve the crisis.

The health and treatment of the detained Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to be a key topic during discussions about Myanmar at the UN General Assembly. Last week, a court sentenced her to three years of “hard labour” for purported electoral fraud.

Myanmar junta placed Suu Kyi in solitary confinement to ‘embarrass’ her

The decision is part of a series of convictions handed down by courts in the junta-ruled country against Suu Kyi.

In total, the 77-year-old now faces 20 years in prison. Rights groups say the charges against her and other key NLD figures including President Win Myint are being trumped up by junta chief Min Aung Hlaing’s administration.

The senior general has so far refused to allow the detained leader to meet any visiting foreign officials. The UN’s special envoy for Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer, who was in Myanmar last month, said “the senior general indicated the possibility of a meeting eventually”.