PSPD in English Int. Solidarity 2021-04-22   2009

Open Letter to ASEAN Leaders : Recommendations from CSOs to the ASEAN Special Summit on Myanmar


Open Letter to ASEAN Leaders: Recommendations from CSOs in Myanmar and in Southeast Asia to the ASEAN Special Summit on Myanmar

To: Leaders of the Member States of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Your  Excellencies,

In alignment with the upcoming special ASEAN Summit on Myanmar on 24 April 2021, we, the civil society members in Myanmar and in other Southeast Asian nations as well as undersigned 328 Korea civil society organisations, jointly call on the ASEAN, its leaders and the Member States to come up with an effective and sustainable strategy jointly with the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the International Criminal Court (ICC), and other international community actors in addressing the illegitimate and brutal coup and atrocity crimes committed by the military junta in Myanmar.

We welcome the decision to hold the ASEAN Special Summit on Myanmar, based on the proposal made by President Joko Widodo of the Republic of Indonesia to discuss the worsening situation in Myanmar following the violent crackdown against peaceful protesters and the terror campaign against civilians launched by the junta. The decision hopefully constitutes a precedent and reflects the commitment of ASEAN Member States leaders to address Myanmar’s appalling situation using its highest-level policy-making body.

However, in view of ASEAN Member States’ differing positions on the coup in Myanmar, we remain extremely concerned that the ASEAN Summit’s response might be to consider the crisis as solely within Myanmar’s domestic affairs and therefore deciding to refrain from any meaningful action in line with the “ASEAN Way” of non-interference and overzealous respect for state sovereignty.

The differing positions of ASEAN Member States has made it difficult for ASEAN to reach a consensus and resulted in equivocations and delayed responses from ASEAN, while the military junta continued its deliberate, murderous attacks on Myanmar’s people, including various violence against women and girls, much to our sorrow and anger. As evidenced from the outputs produced by the Informal ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (IAFMM), ASEAN responses fall well short of meeting the will of the people of Myanmar. The chair’s statement of the IAFMM meeting neither specifically publicly called out the junta’s brutality nor called for stronger cooperation with the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council. Further, it also fails to mention ASEAN’s commitment to supporting targeted economic sanctions against military personnel and business entities and global arms embargo and referral of the Myanmar situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

With the different interests and political will of ASEAN Member States at the moment, we are concerned to what extent the ASEAN Special Summit can create an immediate and meaningful intervention to resolve the situation of Myanmar. ASEAN’s collective and meaningful action to uphold democracy is warranted at this time. Any decision by the ASEAN Leaders to treat the military junta as the legitimate representative of Myanmar in the Summit will serve to legitimize the military junta’s crimes and will thus damage not only the relationship of ASEAN with the peoples of Myanmar but the peoples’ movement for democracy and human rights in the region as a whole.

Further, The ASEAN and its Member States must recognise the legitimacy of the National Unity Government (NUG), the legitimate and democratically-elected government of Myanmar, given that it represents 76% of elected Members of the Union Parliament, ethnic leaders, the civil disobedience movement, and general strike committees endorsed by the people of Myanmar. Therefore, Myanmar must be represented by the National Unity Government; not by the illegal junta who is trying to take full control of the country through its unprecedented brutality.

As we send this letter to the ASEAN Leaders,  the violence and killings by the Myanmar military against protesters and supporters continue with no sign of abating. The junta have so far arbitrarily killed 738 and arrested 3,261 people, including women, elderly people, and children. In Karen and Kachin ethnic areas, the junta has been bombing villages, displacing more than 30,000 villagers. In these bombing attacks, civilians including children lost their lives as well as faced difficulties not only about their safety but also for health, shelter, and food. Among those fleeing were women, children, elderly and pregnant women who are due to give birth. There was also a case of a woman who gave birth to her child while she was fleeing. Given the gravity of the situation, the increasing number of victims, and the impact of the crisis on the region’s security and political stability, we strongly urge ASEAN to take firm and effective actions to address the Myanmar coup through the ASEAN Special Summit.

We urge all ASEAN leaders to listen to, strongly consider, and to heed the aspirations and will of the peoples of Myanmar. The voices of Myanmar people who have risked their lives in defense of democracy and justice must be the anchor, the conscience, behind any modality and outcome of the ASEAN Special Summit on Myanmar.

Therefore, in solidarity with the peoples of Myanmar, we call on the ASEAN Leaders to immediately take the following actions:

  • Reject the presence of illegitimate military junta as the representative of Myanmar in the Summit;
  • Give the seat of Myanmar in the ASEAN Summit to its legitimate representative, the National Unity Government;
  • Call for all violence against citizens and peaceful demonstrators as well as supporters and journalists to cease, for the release of all political prisoners, including human rights defenders, protesters and protest leaders and journalists, and the lifting of all restrictions on the internet and on communications more generally;
  • Establish a solid and coordinated response among the ASEAN, the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council with the aim of sending a joint delegation to Myanmar to monitor the situation, put ending the violence, and helping negotiate a democratic, peaceful and human rights-based solution;
  • Fully support initiatives by the international community to impose a global arms embargo and targeted economic sanctions against the military, their personnel, and business entities related to them and for the UN Security Council to refer the Myanmar situation to the ICC;
  • Ensure access for humanitarian aid and health support to all affected areas in Myanmar including opening cross-border humanitarian aid corridors;
  • Put the safety, security, and wellbeing of Myanmar asylum seekers and refugees, including the Rohingya, as one of its priorities;
  • ASEAN countries must not return Myanmar migrant workers and refugees back home regardless of their status.  ASEAN destination countries should extend the Myanmar migrant workers employment contracts for another year or more;
  • Take substantial measures against Myanmar, including suspending Myanmar’s membership of ASEAN. ASEAN shall only lift the suspension once the military junta accepts the authority of the National Unity Government, the military places itself fully, permanently, and unconditionally under NUG control, the junta is brought to the ICC, and democracy is fully established.

Only by moving beyond the “ASEAN Way” of consensus and non-interference can ASEAN intervene in the Myanmar situation in a meaningful and robust way. Myanmar is on the verge of becoming a failed state, and it is in ASEAN’s best interest to take a firm stance on these urgent and distressful developments. Failure to do so risks not only further damaging ASEAN’s reputation as an effective regional body that can meaningfully contribute to a solid, just, humane and viable community of nations but will undermine ASEAN’s efforts to achieve its vision and mission of a caring, just and peaceful community of nations and peoples.


Signed by 328 civil society organizations in the Republic of Korea

Korean Civil Society in Support of Democracy in Myanmar, Action & Solidarity in Korea, Activists Group for Human Rights ‘BARAM’, Activists Group on the Street, Aksi Lilin Jakarta, AKUKFEM, Alternatives to Violence Project In Korea, Andong YWCA, Ansan YWCA, AnYang YWCA, Areum Nara, Asian Companions Against Brutality, Asian Dignity Initiative, Asian Migrant Women Center, Association of Korea Minjung Theologians, Blooming School, BUCHEON YWCA, Buddhist Solidarity for Reform, BUSAN YWCA, BUTTL’ Chunganm Human Rights Educational Activist Group, Catholic Association Of Labour And Elderly (Masan Diocese), Catholic Women’s Center, Center for Freedom of Information, CHANGJAK21, Changnyeong Environmental Movement Union, Changwon Icoup Consumer Life Cooperative, Changwon Minyechong, Changwon Sustainable Development Council, Changwon Women’s Association, Changwon Women’s Center Jinhae Hall, Changwon YMCA, Cheonan YWCA, Cheongju YWCA, Cheongma History Meeting, Cheongman Haengwoong, Child Fund Korea Gyeongnam Children’s Protection Center, Children’s Book, Children’s Peace Library, Christian Association for Community Organizing, Christian Youth Academy, CHUNCHEON YWCA, Chung Soon-Wook Of Changwon City, Chungju YWCA, Church and Society Committee of PROK, Chwnwon YWCA, Citizens’ Coalition For Democratic Press Of Gyeongsangnam-Do Province, Citizens’ Coalition For Economic Justice In Geoje, Citizens’ Solidarity Tongyeong Branch, Civic Association Of Masan, Changwon And Jinhae With Grandmothers ‘Japanese Military Sexual Slavery’, Civic Association Of Tongyoung Geoje With Grandmothers ‘Japanese Military Sexual Slavery’, Coalition of Industrial Accidents Prevention in Ulsan, Cooperative Unnine(Sister’s), Critical_group Sigak, Cultural Incheon Network, DAEGU YWCA, Daejeon YWCA, DAPLS, Dasan Human Rights Center, Doingle Around, Donghae YWCA, Dongyo Childish Grownups, Ecological Environmental Education And Cultural Center, Ecumenical Youth Cousil in Korea, Education Hope Gimhae Parent Association, Education Hope Gyeongnam Parent Association, Education Hope Sacheon Parent Association, Enjoyable SW Thinking Lab, Eyes Of Citizens, Fellowship with the Sufferers, Fine Dust Resolution Gyeongnam Citizens’ Headquarters, FKTU Ulsan Regional Office, Forest Of Life In Gyeongsangnam-Do, Freedom Dignity and Asia, Gangneung YWCA, Gathering Of Gyeongnam Teachers To Protect The Environment And Life, Geoje Civic Energy Cooperative, Geoje Sustainable Development Council, GEOJE Young Women’s Christian Association, Gimhae Education Solidarity, Gimhae Sustainable Development Council Ecological Division, GIMHAE YWCA, GJIF(Gwangju independent film), Goesan Gender Equality Lecturer’s Group, Gommasil Children, GongGam Human Rights Law Foundation, Good Friends, GOYANG YWCA, Green Party Korea, Green Party Seoul, GREEN KOREA INCHEON, GreenKorea Legal Center, GUNSAN YWCA, Gwangju Alliance Against Opposing the Military Regime and Supporting Democratization in Myanmar, Gwangju Asia Sisterhood Network, Gwangju Cinema Solidarity, Gwangju Green korea United, Gwangmyeong Young Women’s Christion Association, Gwangyang YWCA, Gyeongnam Amphibian Network, Gyeongnam Energy Transition Network, Gyeongnam Grass Root Environmental Education Center, Gyeongnam Green Party, Gyeongnam Migrant Center, Gyeongnam Solidarity For Safe School Meals, Gyeongnam Sunlight Development Cooperative, Gyeongsangnam-Do Branch Of The National School Non-Regular Workers’ Union, Gyeongsangnam-Do Civic Environment Research Institute, Gyeongsangnam-Do Information Society Research Institute, Gyeongsangnam-Do Women, Moms, Peoples’ Party, Gyeongsangnam-Do Women’s Human Rights Counseling Center Of Women’s Association, Haein church, Haemalgeum(Sunny) Cultural Activity Center, Haman Women’s Association, Han Church, Hana Church, Hanam YWCA, HANBAIK CHURCH YOUNG ADULT, Hansalim Gyeongsangnam-Do, HANSALIM KYUNGNAM, HAPPYCLASS MEDITATION COMMUNITY, Homeless Action, Hope Woongsang, Human Rights and Sport, Human Rights Center of the National Council of Churches in Korea(NCCK), I Coop Consumer Life Cooperative In Jang Yu, Immigrants Advocacy Center Gamdong, Incheon Civil Society in Solidarity, Incheon People Solidarity, Incheon Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination, INCHEON YWCA, Incorporated Organization Silcheon Bulgyo, Institute For Deliberative Democracy And Environment, Institute for Green Transformation, Inter-religious Climate and Ecology Network, International Child Rights Center, Ivy Humanities School, Jakarta Candlelight Action, Jecheon YWCA, Jeju Dark Tours, JEJU YWCA, Jeonggeum Church, Jeonju Youth Counseling & Welfare Center, JEONJU YWCA, Jeonju’s Solidarity for Democracy in Myanmar, Jeonkyojo Incheon, Jinhae Women’s Association, Jinhae YWCA, Jinju Environmental Movement Union, Jinju Regional Economic Research Institute, Jinju Women’s Association, Jinju YMCA, JINJU YWCA, Joint Committee on Freedom of Expression and Press Repression, June 10 Minju Gyeongnam, June 15 Joint Declaration Changwon Branch, June Democratic Resistance Spirit Succession Gyeongnam Association, Justice Party Gyeongnam Youth Student Committee, Justice Party Gyeongsangnam-Do Party, Justice Party Yangsan Regional Committee, Justice Party’s Namhae Hadong Regional Committee, Kangzinoop Church, KctuLaw Ulsan, KCTUUl, KFEM, KHMU (Korea Health and Medical labor Union), KIDOKYOMINHOE, Korea Christian Action Organization, Korea Eco Farmers Association, Korea Federation for Environmental Movements in Incheon, Korea Federation Of Environmental Movements In Gimhae And Yangsan, Korea Federation Of Environmental Movements In Machangjin, Korea Federation Of Environmental Movements In Sacheon, Korea Federation Of Producers In Gyeongsangnamdo Province, Korea Institute for Religious Freedom, Korea Institute Of Ecological Environment, Korea Rurban Regeneration Citizen’s Solidarity, Korea Teachers Union-Ulsan, Korea Women’s Associations United (KWAU), Korean Civil Society in Solidarity with Rohingya, Korean Confederation Of Trade Unions Women’s Committee, Korean Disability Forum, Korean House for International Solidarity, Korean Pharmacists for Democratic Society(Ulsan district), Korean Producers & Directors’ Association, Korean Solidarity for Overseas Community Organization, KSCF, KTU Yangsan Middle School Branch, Kwangju YWCA, Kyungnam University Alumni Community, Kyungnam University Environmental Group, Labour Party Gyeongsangnam-Do Provincial Party, Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Ulsanjibu, Like Pearls, M.M.C, Mandooparty to prepare a new church, MARCO(Migration Action Research Community), Masan Icoup Consumer Life Cooperative, MASAN YWCA, Media Christian Solidarity, Migrant World Film Festival, Migrant World TV, Migrants Trade Union(MTU), Militants for Workers’ Liberty(Ulsan), MINBYUN – Lawyers for a Democratic Society International Solidarity Committee, MOKPO YWCA, My Neighborhood Small Library, My Sister’s Home, My Sister’s Place, Myanmar Democracy Network in Korea, Naeseo Village School, Namhae Women’s Association, Namwon YWCA, Namyangju Women’s Center for Migrant Workers, National Clergy Conference for Justice and Peace, National Farmers Association Busan Gyeongnam Federation, National Women Farmers Association Gyeongsangnam-Do Union, National YWCA of KOREA, Nature And People, New Bodhisattva Network, Non San Young Women’s Christian Association, NYJ YWCA, OFM KOREA JPIC, Osan welfare community center, Paju YWCA, ParkJongCheol Memorial Foundation, Pax Christi Korea, Peacemakers, PEACEMOMO, People In My Neighborhood (Community For Life And Autonomy), People, not Profit, People’s Party Gyeongsangnam-Do, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), PIDA (People’s Initiative for Development Alternatives), Platform.C, Pohang YWCA, Progressive 3.0, PROK, PROK Namsindo, Prun Naeseo Community Association, Pyeongtongsa In Masan, Changwon And Jinhae, Rainbow Vision, Refresh Community, Refugee Rights Center NANCEN, Representative Of The Institute Of Life And Arts, Resident Association For Safe And Happy Yangsan, Residents’ Committee For Coal Power Plant In Sacheon, Namhae And Hadong, Sacheon Ecological Environment Research Society, Sacheon Women’s Association, Sacheon YWCA, Sangnam Film Production Center, SEBASA, Sejong YWCA, Seochon YWCA, Seomjingang River And Jiri Mountain People, Seong-Mun-Bakk Church, Seongnam YWCA, Seoul Disabled People’s Right Film Festival, Seoul National University MEARI Alumni Association, SGPO YWCA, Shancheong Humanities Meeting Leadership Society, Sidaebogjigong-gam, Social Cooperative Celandine, Social Cooperative Containing A Village, Social Cooperative Handle Sandeul, Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party Ulsan, SOK CHO YWCA, Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination, Solidarity for Another World, Solidarity for Peace & Humanrights, South North Korea Railway, SSSWC, Students’ March, Sumdol Presbyterian Church, SUNCHEON YWCA, Sungmisan School, Supporters Group for Migrant Workers Movement, SUWON YWCA, TEN FOR ONE, The Anglican Church of Ulsan, The Declaration of Global Citizen, The Federation Of Korean Artists In South Gyeongsang Province Geoje Branch, The Jeonnam National Church Man’s, The Power of Incheon Citizens, The Research Insititute of the Differently Abled People In Incheon, The Society For The Making Of A Real Village To Live In, Tongyeong Citizens’ Culture Group ‘Tongro(Aisles)’, Tongyeong City Committee Of The Korean Confederation Of Trade Unions, Tongyeong Geoje Environmental Movement Union, Tongyeong Sustainable Development Council, TongYeong Young Women’s Christian Association, Transgender Liberation Front (TLF), Uijeongbu YWCA, Ulsan Bukgu Contingent Workers Center, Ulsan Civil Organizations that support Myanmar’s democracy (66 organizations), Ulsan Green Party, Ulsan Labor Education Community, Ulsan Labor Humanrights Center, ULSAN MIGRANT CENTER, Ulsan Parents EduCoop, Ulsan People’s Solidarity, Ulsan Solidarity For Human Rights, Ulsan worker group for Workplace struggle and Class solidarity, Ulsan YMCA, UNION, Vegetarian Peace Solidarity, Wewood Small Library, WFFIG, Won Buddhist Civil Society Network, WONJU YWCA, Woongsang Labor Counseling Center Woongsang Story, Worker’s Solidarity from Below in Jeonbuk, Yangsan Foreign Workers Support Center, Yangsan Icoup Life Cooperative, Yangsan Parent Movement, Yangsan Women’s Association, YANGSAN YWCA, YEOSU YWCA, YMCA Geoje, YMCA Gimhae, YMCA Masan, YMCA Yangsan, Yoon Sang-Won Memorial Association, Young Deung Po Urban Industrial Mission, Young Kang Church, YOUNGPA Church, YWCA Gimhae, YWCA Masan, YWCA Pyeongtaek, YWCA Ulsan

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