PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Southeast Asian ministers yesterday condemned the lack of progress on a crisis resolution plan for coup-hit Myanmar, demanding the junta take action before a regional summit later this year.
Myanmar has been in chaos since a putsch in February last year, and the death toll from the military’s brutal crackdown on dissent has passed 2,100, according to a local monitoring group.
Anger is growing among some Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members at the generals’ stonewalling, particularly after the execution last month of four prisoners – including two prominent pro-democracy figures.
The 10-member bloc issued a joint statement after foreign minister talks in Phnom Penh.
The ministers said they were “deeply disappointed by the limited progress in and lack of commitment of the Naypyidaw authorities to the timely and complete implementation of the five point consensus”.
And in a veiled warning to Myanmar’s junta, the statement – referencing Article 20 of the ASEAN charter – noted the leaders’ meeting later this year could still take action over “non-compliance”.
ASEAN decisions are usually taken by consensus, but Article 20 allows a summit to override this principle.
Myanmar’s top diplomat Wunna Maung Lwin was not invited to Phnom Penh and was also left out of a foreign ministers’ retreat in February, while junta leader Min Aung Hlaing was snubbed at a leaders’ summit last year.
The foreign ministers also condemned last month’s executions of Phyo Zeya Thaw, a rapper-turned-lawmaker from ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, and veteran political activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as “Jimmy”.
Earlier in the week, Malaysia – which has led calls for tougher action – indicated that Myanmar could face suspension, should members not see concrete progress ahead of the leaders’ summit.
Yesterday’s statement said ASEAN’s special envoy to Myanmar must be allowed to meet with “all relevant stakeholders” – alluding to the military junta’s decision to block access to the detained Suu Kyi.
The Nobel laureate and democracy icon faces a raft of charges that could see her jailed for more than 150 years.
Yesterday, the ministers also held regional security talks with their counterparts from the United States, China, Russia, Japan and Australia at the East Asia Summit.