ASEAN to put pressure on Burma after bloody crackdown

Photo of author

By admin

Singapore | The Burmese junta will have to respond on Tuesday to pressure from Southeast Asian countries which have urged it to end its murderous crackdown on demonstrators in Burma.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) foreign ministers to hold online meeting with Burmese military officials on crisis sparked by arrest of ex-leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

  • Listen to international political columnist Loïc Tassé with Benoit Dutrizac on QUB Radio:

The meeting is expected to “ask the Burmese military to end the violence and attacks against the people,” a diplomat told AFP.

“Asean should also ask the military to open a dialogue with all parties, including that of Aung San Suu Kyi,” said this source on condition of anonymity.

The February 1 coup put an end to Burma’s democratic experiment, triggering an increasingly harsh wave of protests and international condemnation.

On Sunday, the crackdown on demonstrators protesting against the military’s confiscation of power was particularly severe, with at least 18 dead in the country, according to the United Nations, which is based on “credible information”.

ASEAN, which brings together 10 countries including Burma, has long been criticized for its inaction in the face of crises, while the bloc is based on a principle of non-intervention in the affairs of its members.

But some of the most influential ASEAN countries have stood out in recent days with clear criticism of Burmese military power.

“We are outraged by the use of lethal force against civilians,” Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told the city-state parliament, which is Burma’s largest investor, on Monday.

“We call on the Burmese military authorities to show the utmost restraint,” he added, calling for a return to democratic transition.

Indonesia, ASEAN’s heavyweight in economic and population terms, has also called for a return to democracy and sent its Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi for talks with the junta in Bangkok.

But observers stress that the need for a consensus from ASEAN countries makes very strong sanctions or condemnations unlikely.