[Joint Open Letter] Myanmar: Call to Retract Invitation of Myanmar Junta Representatives to International Workshop in Timor-Leste and to Invite National Unity Government Representatives Instead
10 April 2023 11:32 am
Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta
Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
Dear Mr. President:
The undersigned 413 Myanmar, Timorese, regional and international civil society organizations strongly urge Your Excellency, along with the National Commission for Elections (CNE) President Dr. Jose Agostinho da Costa Belo Pereira, and the Network of Jurisdictional and Electoral Administration Bodies of Portuguese Speaking Countries (ROJAE-CPLP), to retract inviting the representatives of the so-called “Myanmar Election Agency” appointed by the illegal junta to your International Workshop on “Strengthening Democracy, Peace and Stability in State Building”, set to be held on May 19, 2023 in Dili.
These members of the Myanmar Election Agency, representing the brutal junta, have no credibility to talk about the subject of strengthening democracy, peace, and stability in state-building. After its attempted coup in February 2021, without a constitutional basis, the military junta invalidated the results of the democratically held November 2020 General Elections where the National League of Democracy (NLD) won in a massive landslide — a move that disregards the people’s will and runs contrary to the central tenets of democracy. Even then, after more than two years of the coup, the illegal junta controls only 17% of the country’s territory while the majority is controlled under the governance of the legitimate National Unity Government and Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations.
Since then, the illegitimate junta and their administrations have conducted nationwide attacks on civilians, eradicating the foundations of free media, civil society, the political party system, and academic freedom. As of March 2023, the junta and their enablers have killed over 3,000 people, arrested over 21,000 people. At least 1.4 million people have been internally displaced by the military’s violence, and at least 52,200 people forced to leave Myanmar, according to the UN Office of the High Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. We know that you are aware of this grave situation having bravely voiced your own protest against the coup during its early days.
As you wrote in your article published by the Newsweek on December 16, 2021, “the international community has the means to stand up to Myanmar’s military junta. Governments and international bodies should refuse to recognize the Tatmadaw regime or their representatives. They should expel representatives sent by the illegitimate military junta. They should continue to recognize and support diplomats appointed by Myanmar’s democratically elected government, including at the United Nations, thereby ensuring that the legitimate voices of democracy continue to be heard.”
Their actions and the scale of suffering they have created clearly demonstrate strong and consistent disdain to the values of democracy, peace, and stability in nation-building which the will not care about any platitudes on democracy and will return to Myanmar and continue their murderous ways. They even ignored the Five Point Consensus brokered by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during the Cambodian Government’s Presidency. Thus, having representatives of the illegitimate junta will not only taint the goodwill which you aim to foster, it will also disregard the suffering of the peoples of Myanmar who are continuously working to resist the military towards the establishment of a federal democracy in their country. But more so, it could stigmatize Timor-Leste whose own robust and shining democracy has been a blazing light in this otherwise blighted region of tyrants and chameleons.
Aside from retracting the invitation for these Myanmar Election Agency representatives, we also respectfully call on the organizers of the International Workshop to instead extend an invitation to the representatives of the National Unity Government (NUG), who have been continuously working to establish federal democracy in Myanmar. As you very well know, the NUG has been active in rallying and engaging the international community to go against repressive actions by the junta. We urge your support, as an esteemed member of the international community and a champion of human rights and democracy, to support efforts to ensure accountability for the victims of the illegal junta and facilitate further humanitarian support for the peoples of Myanmar, especially its most vulnerable pro-democracy sectors.
We sincerely hope you heed our urgent plea.
For more information, please contact:
• Khin Ohmar, Chairperson, Progressive Voice, [email protected]
• Ichal Supriadi, Secretary-General, Asian Democracy Network, [email protected]
For the full version of this statement, click here