The coup carried out by Myanmar’s military on February 1, 2021, was an action that violated democratic principles and human rights protection. This action threatens the lives of Myanmar’s people and the potential to threaten regional stability. After the illegal coup led by General Min Aung Hlaing, the military officers practiced arbitrary violence that increased threats toward human rights defenders.
To date, at least 700 people have become the victims of arbitrary arrest, including the State Counsellor of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, democratic activists, human rights defenders, and journalists. The police have arrested many activists and their leaders, and their whereabouts are still unknown. Some of them need medical assistance for their illness and also urgent legal assistance.
Myanmar’s military also publicly carried out violence towards protesters. They used firearms to disperse the crowd and deployed snipers to kill civilians who protested against the military regime. At least seven protesters were killed, two teenagers, one person was shot in the head, aged 20. The military was also known to have deployed the 33rd Light Infantry Division (33 LID) – the division involved and responsible for crimes against humanity towards the ethnic groups, including the Shan, Kachin, and Rohingya.
Under the pretext of controlling the country’s stability, the military has also restricted and stopped internet access and communication in several areas without clear boundaries. The military is also planning legal amendments related to cyber communication to strengthen grip and control over information flow.
Nearly a month since the political turmoil took place, but the people in Myanmar are not afraid. Peaceful protests and civil disobedience movements (CDM) took place across the country, including in Yangon, Myitkyina, and Mandalay. On February 22, 2021, millions of people joined the protests of the general strike of 22222 (five twos) against the military regime and asked the military to release prisoners and immediately restore power to the people.
Responding to the crisis in Myanmar, ASEAN, under Brunei Darussalam’s chairmanship, and several ASEAN countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia, have started to urge Myanmar respect the principles of democracy and uphold human rights and maintain stability. As a country with significant influence in ASEAN, Indonesia is also committed to taking an active role in encouraging ASEAN’s role in conflict resolution in Myanmar, one of which is by requesting a special ASEAN summit to discuss this situation.
On Tuesday, February 24, 2021, Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs met Wunna Maung Lwin, who is appointed as Myanmar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs by the military after the coup. On that occasion, Indonesia conveyed its position regarding the situation in Myanmar, which to prioritize the safety and welfare of Myanmar’s people, and the military to stop all forms of violence and promote an inclusive democratic transition process. However, FORUM-ASIA, the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, and Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) urged the Indonesian’s government to have a transparent and inclusive position and strategy that uphold human rights and democracy with the civil society in Myanmar, Indonesia, and in the region. This is important for Indonesia not to legitimize the military’s decision-making and undermine the principles of democracy. As one of the non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and the Human Rights Council member, Indonesia has a strategic position to be a frontline to urge Myanmar’s government to stop the military coup that hindered the human rights and democracy in Myanmar and ASEAN.
Myanmar has a dark history related to coups and legitimizing Myanmar’s military actions that have openly tarnished democracy and committing gross human rights violations. The persecution of ethnic minorities will only harm democracy and the enforcement of human rights in Myanmar and the region. Therefore, the diplomatic steps taken by the Government of Indonesia must be in line with the demands put forward by the Myanmar people and oppose the military apparatus taking power. In particular, Indonesia must embrace ASEAN member countries and jointly urge the military in Myanmar to:
Aside from that, Indonesia must urge ASEAN to:
Jakarta, February 24, 2021
FORUM-ASIA, KontraS, and AJAR
Fatia Maulidiyanti (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cornelius Hanung (email@example.com)
Indria Fernida (firstname.lastname@example.org)