ASEAN’s Initiative to End Political Crisis in Myanmar

Synopsis:  ASEAN’s initiative is trying to resolve the political crisis in Myanmar through peaceful mediation. It is a shining example of how regional grouping can be helpful in diffusing crises in its member countries.

Background
  • People in Myanmar organized a civil disobedience movement against the military. They demanded the release of their elected leaders and the return of freedoms and democracy.
  • However, the people’s movement was controlled using brute military power. 750 were killed, thousands injured, and over 2,500 detained.
  • The opposition is demanding the rejection of the 2008 constitution. Also, adoption of a new Federal Democracy Charter, and announcement of the ‘national unity government’ with representation from the majority Bamar and ethnic minority communities. But the army didn’t accept their demands too.
  • Further, the army set aside the results of the 2020 elections and promised for new elections in a year or two and a disciplined democracy.
How the international community responded to the derailment of Democracy in Myanmar?

The international community was divided on their response. There was no united action taken by the international community to settle the crisis in Myanmar. For instance,

  • The U.S., the U.K., and the European Union advocated strong sanctions against the military regime.
  • Whereas, China and Russia were determined to protect Myanmar’s army from excessive censure and opposition as greater instability would affect their interests.
  • Asian powers, mainly India and Japan, preferred to support reconciliation.

However, the ASEAN, regional grouping of Southeast Asian nations has taken a bold initiative to settle the crisis.

ASEAN’s Mediation Process
  • Myanmar is a member of the ASEAN grouping. Though ASEAN is built on the values of non-interference in the internal affairs of its member states, ASEAN decided to mediate with Myanmar for the region’s larger good.
  • After that, the ASEAN member countries organized the Jakarta Summit to discuss Myanmar’s governance crisis along with Myanmar’s army general.
  • The Jakarta Summit ended with two major outcomes.
    1. One, the Five-Point Consensus with the acceptance of Myanmar’s military general on the following demands
      • Immediate cessation of violence
      • Supply of humanitarian assistance and Constructive dialogue.
      • ASEAN’s mediation through the visit by a special envoy of ASEAN’s chair and the ASEAN secretary general.
    2. Two, however, the Myanmar military had reservations on the following two elements
      • One, repatriation of Rohingya’s from Bangladesh.
      • Two, the release of all political prisoners including foreigners. This makes clear that leaders will be released only when the situation normalizes.

ASEAN’s initiative to resolve its issues peacefully has been largely appreciated by the international community. India too welcomed the ASEAN initiative. Myanmar’s leaders should work for a lasting reconciliation, deriving inspiration from Lord Buddha’s ‘Middle Path’.

Source: The Hindu

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