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Open Statement Regarding the Coup, Arbitrary Arrests and Detentions by the Military in Myanmar

“Myanmar as a democracy in the future is an inevitable reality. The history of struggles to voice diverse political standings within Myanmar and how their people have spoken through elections are our guidance for not taking the current social turmoil and military coup in Myanmar as an internal matter. The time is here to advance solidarity among democracies, not through sanctions and pressures but through outreach to democrats and civil society activists. Indonesia as a democracy and one of the pioneers which initiated the embedding of democracy and human rights principles within ASEAN should lead in creating a conducive regional environment for the baby democracy in Myanmar to grow. Having Myanmar as a democracy helps Indonesia’s foreign policy in advancing fair trade and sustainable economic growth. Procedural measures within ASEAN won’t work properly without any movements from inspirational leaders. I call on President Joko Widodo, the icon of democracy in Indonesia, to become one of the inspirational leaders that help turn violence into peace, doubts into confidence that democracy and respect to human rights is the best political system for Myanmar.” --- Dinna Prapto Raharja, Indonesia’s Representative to ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights 2016-2018.


15 February 2021

We, the undersigned, former Representatives to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), are gravely concerned over the coup staged by the Myanmar military on 1 February 2021 against the elected civilian government. Raids have been carried out by the military against members of the government. According to credible news sources, hundreds of senior NLD party and government officials including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and Union Minister of the Office of the State Counsellor and former Representative of Myanmar to the AICHR, Kyaw Tint Swe, as well as protesters have been arrested and detained.

The removal and takeover of the civilian government that was elected in a landslide victory by the people of Myanmar is contrary to the principles of democracy and constitutional government, rule of law, good governance, and respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the ASEAN Charter. Myanmar, as a member of ASEAN, is obliged to abide by the Charter.

The coup also amounts to a serious breach of human rights of the peoples of Myanmar as recognised by the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. The Declaration that Myanmar’s government adopted binds Myanmar, including its military. The violent crackdown on the on-going peaceful protests is further evidence of widespread human rights abuses. The coup staged by the military is a definite setback in Myanmar’s process of democratisation and has far-reaching ramifications for human rights in the region. Not only will the coup destabilise the region, but it is also a catalyst allowing the military to act unchecked to afflict the people of Myanmar with the unacceptable malaise of dictatorship.

We, therefore, call for the following:

  • Myanmar military to immediately release all those currently arbitrarily detained.

  • Myanmar military to resolve the election dispute through democratic processes, enter into constructive dialogue with the stakeholders in Myanmar to break through any impasse, and work towards reconciliation and return of Myanmar to civilian rule consistent with the spirit, will and interest of the people of Myanmar.

  • Myanmar military to respect the human rights of the people of Myanmar and refrain from any use of violence against peaceful assemblies.

  • Myanmar military to protect the voices of the people calling for a fully democratic Myanmar in the manifestation of the founding spirit and principles of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.

  • AICHR to exercise its protection mandate to look into the human rights abuses in Myanmar.

  • ASEAN to convene a special meeting to discuss the situation in Myanmar and to propose possible solutions for the crisis.

Signed by:

  1. Sriprapha Petcharamesree, former Representative of Thailand to the AICHR

  2. Seree Nonthasoot, former Representative of Thailand to the AICHR

  3. Edmund Bon Tai Soon, former Representative of Malaysia to the AICHR

  4. Dinna Prapto Raharja, former Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR

  5. Rafendi Djamin, former Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR

  6. Barry Desker, former Representative of Singapore to the AICHR

  7. Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, former Representative of Malaysia to the AICHR

  8. Loretta Ann P. Rosales, former Representative of the Philippines to the AICHR

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