Jakarta. ASEAN Chair Indonesia promised to do its best to get Myanmar out of its long-running political turmoil while making sure the crisis would not hold the Southeast Asian bloc hostage.
And like past chairs, the agreed five-point consensus will become Indonesia’s compass in navigating the Myanmar crisis.
“On Myanmar, as [ASEAN] chair, in accordance with the five-point consensus mandate, Indonesia will make every effort to help Myanmar exit the political crisis,” Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said at the ministry’s annual press conference on Wednesday.
The five-point consensus calls for, among others, immediate cessation of violence and constructive dialogue among the parties concerned.
All ASEAN leaders, including the Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, agreed on a five-point resolution plan at an emergency meeting in Jakarta in April 2021. But the junta has failed to keep its promise.
“ASEAN is disappointed. Regardless of the efforts by the chair and all ASEAN member states, there is no significant progress in the implementation of the five-point consensus by the Myanmar military junta,” Retno said.
In addition to the consensus, Indonesia’s measures on the Myanmar crisis will follow the principles of the ASEAN Charter — the group’s legal and institutional framework — in its entirety, according to Retno.
“Among others, adherence to the rule of law, good governance, the principle of democracy, and constitutional government,” the diplomat said.
Still, on the Myanmar crisis, Indonesia will set up an office of ASEAN special envoy which Retno herself will spearhead. She said that ASEAN chair Indonesia would engage with all stakeholders, while also continuing to collaborate with the UN Secretary-General Special Envoy.
Indonesia requests the newly appointed ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn and the bloc’s humanitarian aid center AHA Center be given access to all stakeholders. “So they can continue their mission to deliver humanitarian assistance,” Retno told the forum.
As chair, Jakarta will make the development of the ASEAN Community remain the priority focus. “The Myanmar issue must not hold the ASEAN community development process hostage,” Retno said.
Retno also spoke on Rohingya — the Muslim minority group who had suffered decades of violence in Myanmar. Retno reported about 644 Rohingya refugees had fled to Indonesia within the past three months. This brought the total number of registered Rohingya ethnic migrants in Indonesia to 1,500 people.
“The issue of Rohingya will be more difficult to resolve with the current situation in Myanmar. The Rohingya issue cannot be resolved if the root causes of the problem are left unaddressed,” Retno said.
More than 700 days have passed since the Myanmar junta seized power in Feb. 2021. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) reported that at least 2,725 civilians and pro-democracy activists had died at the hands of the occupying military, including 276 children. The military junta has arrested 17,174 people, and only 3,721 have been released so far.