We, the undersigned network of civil society organizations, would like to appreciate the statement made by the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, on March 19, 2021, regarding the disintegrate situation in Myanmar. In the statement, Jokowi urged that the use of violence in Myanmar be stopped immediately to prevent more casualties, and to put the safety and welfare of the people as a top priority. In his statement, President Jokowi also mentioned Indonesia’s steps to hold a high-level ASEAN meeting to discuss the crisis in Myanmar.
We highly appreciate this statement, as Indonesia should urge a stop to the use of violence in Myanmar. On March 19, 2021, the junta troops has killed eight protesters in the city of Aungban. The deaths that occurred until March 21, 2021 in total have stood at 250 people, and arbitrary detentions have reached 2,665 since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, 2021 yesterday.
Last week, the junta imposed martial law on six small towns in Yangon, the country’s former capital and trade hub, essentially placing nearly 2 million people under the direct control of military commanders. This is certainly worrying remembering Yangon as a battle zone with burning barricades and security forces continuing to fire on unarmed protesters. Many residents have fled, fueled by the insecurity created by the military presence, and the police sweeping; checking the cars, motorbikes, and even cell phones of people roaming the streets. If they find goods or evidence related to politics and civil disobedience movements, they will not even hesitate to arrest the person concerned.
Interventions to protect the people of Myanmar and restore democracy in Myanmar are urgently needed. Indonesia has urged the dialogue on reconciliation that should be carried out immediately to restore peace, but so far, there has been no transparent follow-up regarding the continuation of efforts to reconcile the conflict in Myanmar. In addition, Indonesia and other ASEAN member countries also need to provide maximum steps involving the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Security Council to form coordination steps in encouraging these efforts. We really hope that Indonesia’s insistence does not stop at dialogue with the junta or only in the ruling military, but also involves the international community, the United Nations, and facilitates more transparent and inclusive participation of the Myanmar people.
We also urge the Indonesian government to be able to demonstrate the accountability of the State’s after the meetings held at the regional and international levels. This can be done by providing regular information regarding the results of meetings and strategies of international organizations in restoring peace in Myanmar. In that way, communication between the government and Indonesian civil society networks in advocating violence in Myanmar can go hand in hand and achieve peace.
The proactive steps taken by President Jokowi should be appreciated. However, all efforts made by the Indonesian government to help reconcile the conflict in Myanmar must not legitimize and show partiality to military forces. To return democracy and peace back to Myanmar, the voice of the Myanmar people must be prioritized in all forms of diplomacy so that the decisions issued later can side with the people who have been victims of violence over the past month and restore a sense of security in their own country for the people of Myanmar.
Jakarta, 22 March 2021
Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)
Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI)
Amnesty International Indonesia
Human Rights Working Group (HRWG)
Institute for Community Studies & Advocacy (ELSAM)
Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI)