[Joint Open Letter] Open Letter for Outcome Document Myanmar Advocacy Day
6 September 2023 6:24 pm

To ASEAN leaders:

H.E. Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Prime Minister of Brunei

H.E Hun Manet, Prime Minister of Cambodia

H.E Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia

H.E Sonexay Siphandone, Prime Minister of Laos

H.E Anwar bin Ibrahim, Prime Minister of Malaysia

H.E Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr, President of the Philippines

H.E Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore

H.E Srettha Thavisin, Prime Minister of Thailand

H.E. Phạm Minh Chính, Prime Minister of Vietnam

 

Re: Presentation of analysis, findings, and recommendations from Myanmar Day: Hearing from People on the Ground and Experts in the Region

6 September 2023

Your Excellencies,

We, the undersigned nine Myanmar and regional civil society organisations, write to present to you the analysis, findings, and recommendations from the Myanmar Day: Hearing from People on the Ground and Experts in the Region event, which was organised by the signatories on 30 August 2023 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

On 30 August 2023, the undersigned organisations convened two distinguished panels under Myanmar Day: Hearing from People on the Ground and Experts in the Region: Public Hearing on International Crimes in Myanmar and Expert Panel on ASEAN’s Approach and Responses to Multi-Dimensional Crisis in Myanmar. The two panels aimed to highlight experiences of survivors of human rights violations and to obtain recommendations for ASEAN leaders on how the regional bloc should move forward to address the crisis in Myanmar. 

The Public Hearing presented a total of 11 testimonies of survivors of gross human rights violations– committed by the Myanmar military junta over the past 30 months since its illegal coup attempt–to a panel of regional human rights experts and general participants. We collected 10 testimonies from six women and four men survivors of the military’s atrocities from Chin and Karenni States and Sagaing, Magwe, and Mandalay Regions. We also heard an in-person testimony of a Rohingya survivor at the event. The Public Hearing was chaired by a panel of regional human rights experts consisting of Andy Yentriyani (Indonesia), Edmund Bon (Malaysia), Galuh Wandita (Indonesia), Muhammad Isnur (Indonesia), and Professor Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree (Thailand). 

From the Public Hearing panel, the experts identified the following patterns of human rights violations by the Myanmar military junta: Indiscriminate air attacks and bombings, destruction of food sources and valuables, collective punishment, killings, torture, rape, ill-treatment of detainees, among other issues. The full list of responses and observations is provided for your consideration in the Annex.

The second panel discussed ASEAN’s approach and responses to multi-dimensional crises in Myanmar, in particular the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus, over the past two and a half years. The panel of experts consisted of Adelina Kamal (Indonesia), Eva Kusuma Sundari (Indonesia), Atty. Evalyn Ursua (Philippines), Professor Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak (Thailand), and Salai Za Uk Ling (Myanmar). 

The expert panel recognized that the ongoing violence in Myanmar caused by the Myanmar military junta’s atrocities represents the lowest point of ASEAN’s existence and influence in which actions by the regional bloc do not represent the freedom and democracy values of ASEAN people and the ASEAN Charter. 

The panel further acknowledged the failure of the Five-Point Consensus, in particular the cessation of violence on the ground and the provision of humanitarian assistance. The experts discussed that the current crisis has demonstrated broadly different patterns of violence compared to those in the 1990s and the 2000s in Myanmar. As such, ASEAN cannot take the same reactive approach but must immediately develop innovative and more effective approaches to address the Myanmar crisis, namely an increased scale of involvement of ASEAN Member States and more direct actions on the ground. 

The experts unanimously agreed that it is imperative for addressing the root causes of the problem, which is the military junta itself. Records have shown that the junta has no political will to end the crisis and even to abide by the Five-Point consensus. Therefore, the experts urged ASEAN to cut ties with the junta and not give them further legitimacy. 

Further, human-rights based and victims-centred strategies need to be developed in order for the regional bloc to navigate beyond the Five-Point Consensus. In particular, to address the humanitarian catastrophe in Myanmar, the experts recommended strategic cooperation between countries sharing borders with Myanmar for more effective aid delivery. With the objective of truly achieving meaningful humanitarian benefits rather than political gains, the panel proposed that ASEAN shifts to a people-centred approach by building its humanitarian assistance on the existing capacity of locally-led humanitarian responders and local governance structures. 

Your Excellencies, we present to you these findings and recommendations for your consideration in your current and future efforts in attempting to address the intensifying multi-dimensional crisis in Myanmar. 

We truly hope for your time and recognition of the voices of the victims and survivors who have endured gross human rights violations by the Myanmar military. We remain at your disposal to assist you in developing an effective regional approach.  Should any need for clarification of the findings and recommendations arise, please do not hesitate to contact Khin Ohmar ([email protected]) or Cornelius Hanung ([email protected]).

 

Sincerely,

  • Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma)
  • Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
  • Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  • Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
  • Komisi untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan (KontraS)
  • Myanmar National Organizing Committee for ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF)
  • Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma (ND-Burma)
  • Progressive Voice
  • YAPPIKA

For the PDF version of this letter and Public Hearing panel’s reservations and response, click here