The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is meeting today to discuss the ongoing suffering of the citizens in Myanmar at the hand of the junta government. The military committed a coup back in February 2021, ousting Aung San Suu Kyi’s government.
Since the military take over, the situation in Myanmar has continued to deteriorate. Numerous civilians have simply been massacred in the streets. This violence and repression has only been increasing in the face of growing criticism. The recent bombing of ethnic minorities highlights this.
Just days ago, military forces bombed an event in the northern state of Kachin, put on by the Kachin Independence Organization. At least 80 people were killed in the bombings including performers and many audience members.
Nations around the world were quick to publish statements condemning the flagrant killing of civilian. However, very little concrete action has been taken to ensure a de-escalation of violence by the government occurs.
While some sanctions have been put in place they clearly have not gone far enough, though some officials, like Tom Andrews, have called for sanctions against the military and even an arms embargo. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights also likened the situation to Ukraine, partially because the aggressors in both conflicts get much of their weaponry from the same source, Russia.
Russia is reportedly the current top source of the junta government’s cache of killing machines. However, others like China, and even democratic nations like Israel, have offered up large numbers of military equipment to Myanmar.
These sales must be strongly opposed as it gives a massive tactical advantage to the murderous government, supplying them with artillery and missiles with which to slaughter civilians, while resistance fighters are left with 3D printing FCG-9s to defend their lives.
The devastation brought on by the instability and violence of the illegitimate government is also having knock-on effects that could lead to even more suffering for those living in the country. Rising inflation, affecting the whole world, is even more pronounced in Myanmar and rising fuel and fertilizer costs, along with fleeing farmers, could create a very deadly food shortage in the coming months.
Already over a million people have been displaced by the violence brought on from the junta. In addition to this food prices are already up over 60 percent year-on-year. Along with somewhere around 14 million people already food insecure, this could prove a deadly combination.
Just as the global community must come together to impose as much pressure as possible on the junta government, ASEAN must more acutely ensure that they do not allow them to run roughshod over the group or its own citizens. Previously, many have criticized ASEAN for not doing enough to adequately combat the horrors that the government is meting out to its populace.
There is some speculation that the group may take a harder line in order to push the government towards a peaceful solution, however, the ASEAN is far from a consensus, with some, like Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, seemingly pushing more in the direction of appeasement, though these strategies are likely to receive pushback and will hopefully be overruled by more rational actors.
Both ASEAN and the international community must not abandon the people of Myanmar. They must also not allow the junta government to continue to wantonly murder its civilians.