World must rethink fundamental approach to Myanmar: UN expert

A plan to stop the violence that began with the military coup has made no progress, while the crisis has deepened.

Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar
UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, addresses a press conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Sunday, December 19, 2021 [Mahmud Hossain Opu/AP Photo]

The world must reconsider its fundamental approach to the crisis in Myanmar, a United Nations expert has said.

Thomas Andrews, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, told reporters in Jakarta there had been no progress on implementing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) five-point peace plan, which the regional grouping agreed with Myanmar coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing soon after he took power in February 2021.

The ASEAN plan called for an immediate end to violence, safe humanitarian access and inclusive dialogue to restore peace, but the military showed no willingness to implement it.

In the months since, the military government has stepped up efforts to eradicate opposition to its rule and has been accused of indiscriminate attacks that may amount to war crimes. More than 1.5 million people have been forced from their homes, according to the UN.

Clashes with armed groups known as the People’s Defence Forces, sometimes working with ethnic armed groups that have been fighting the military for decades, have also intensified.

Some 3,679 people have been killed and thousands more imprisoned, according to a local monitoring group.

Andrews was speaking at the end of a visit to Indonesia, which is the current chair of ASEAN, and coincided with signs of discord within the 10-member group over how to deal with Myanmar after Thailand’s outgoing government hosted talks on Monday it said were aimed at “fully re-engaging” with the military.

Malaysia and Indonesia snubbed the meeting, while Singapore said such talks were premature.

Andrews said ASEAN must not invite Myanmar’s military personnel to high-level diplomatic meetings, because it risked extending a sense of legitimacy to the coup.

ASEAN barred Myanmar’s generals from its summits after they failed to implement the five-point plan. Myanmar joined the group under a previous military regime in 1997.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters