Myanmar activists censure ASEAN-junta deal, vow to keep up protests
Iran Press TV
Sunday, 25 April 2021 3:13 PM
Pro-democracy activists have sharply censured a deal recently reached between Myanmar's junta chief and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to end the post-coup turmoil in the Southeast Asian country.
Leaders of the 10 ASEAN member states met with Min Aung Hlaing at a summit in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, on Saturday.
Brunei, the current chair of ASEAN, said in a statement that a consensus had been reached on five points â€“ ending violence, a constructive dialog among all parties, a special ASEAN envoy to facilitate the dialog, acceptance of aid and a visit by the envoy to Myanmar.
But Khin Sandar, a prominent activist from a protest group called the General Strikes Collaboration Committee on Sunday rejected the agreement, saying it did not reflect the will of people and Myanmar's ground realities.
"Whether it is ASEAN or the UN, they will only speak from outside saying don't fight but negotiate and solve the issues. But that doesn't reflect Myanmar's ground situation," she was quoted by the media as saying.
"We will continue the protests. We have plans to do so," she added.
Wai Aung, a protest organizer in the largest city of Yangon also vowed to keep up the protests against the Junta.
"We realized that whatever the outcome from the ASEAN meeting, it will not reflect what people want," he said. "We will keep up protests and strikes till the military regime completely fails."
Many also took to social media to criticize the deal.
"ASEAN's statement is a slap on the face of the people who have been abused, killed and terrorized by the military," said a Facebook user called Mawchi Tun. "We do not need your help with that mindset and approach."
Aaron Htwe, another Facebook user, wrote, "Who will pay the price for the over 700 innocent lives."
ASEAN has been under fire by rights groups for legitimizing the junta leader by inviting him to the summit.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said it was unfortunate that only the junta chief represented Myanmar at the meeting.
"Not only were the representatives of the Myanmar people not invited to the Jakarta meeting but they also got left out of the consensus that ASEAN is now patting itself on the back for reaching," he said in a statement.
"The lack of a clear timeline for action, and ASEAN's well-known weakness in implementing the decisions and plans that it issues, are real concerns that no one should overlook," he noted.
Meanwhile, Myanmar's newly-formed shadow government, which had earlier called on Southeast Asian leaders not to recognize the military regime, said it welcomed the consensus reached but added the junta had to be held to its promises.
"We look forward to firm action by ASEAN to follow up its decisions and to restore our democracy," said Dr. Sasa, spokesman for the for the parallel "national unity government (NUG)" on Sunday.
The summit was the first coordinated international effort to ease tensions in Myanmar since the junta deposed de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and imprisoned her along with other political leaders. ASEAN leaders had wanted a commitment from Min Aung Hlaing to restrain his security forces.
The junta has ever since been engaged in a brutal crackdown that has led to killing of nearly 750 people who were calling for the release of Suu Kyi and the restoration of her civil government.
The military government has so far detained more than 3,300 people in connection with the coup, according to a tally by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
The military government justifies the coup by alleging widespread fraud in the November 2020 elections.
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