The Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism (Working Group) registers its continued opposition and condemnation of the seizure of power in Myanmar by the Tatmadaw[1] and its use of violence and force against the people of Myanmar who are carrying out mass demonstrations to express their dissent against the coup and the arrest of their democratically elected leaders. The Working Group is alarmed by the mounting violence against the protesters whose numbers have grown, spreading out beyond the capital and other cities to the countryside. According to reports, the post-coup military crackdown has resulted in more than 3,000 arrests with a rising death toll of more than 700 civilians as of this writing.

The Working Group supports an initiative led by some members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) calling for an ASEAN Special Meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Myanmar. The Working Group reiterates one of ASEAN’s purposes, as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter: to maintain peace, security, and stability in the region and to work towards a rule-based, people-oriented and people-centered community by strengthening democracy, good governance, the rule of law, as well as the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In support of the ASEAN call for a special meeting, the Working Group recommends that:

  • the Tatmadaw to immediately cease violence against the people in the country and hand back the power and control of the Government to democratically-elected rightful leaders of Myanmar;
  • the ASEAN leaders formally direct the Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to monitor the human rights situation in Myanmar in the event that Myanmar does not do so on its own; and
  • the AICHR exercise its mandate and monitor the human rights situation in Myanmar pursuant to its duty to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the peoples of ASEAN; and
  • the ASEAN and its Member States, both collectively and individually, use their authority to persuade the Tatmadaw to adhere to the ASEAN Principles of rule of law, good governance, democracy, and constitutional government; and respect for fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights and social justice.

The Working Group reiterates that the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of a State should not be interpreted to include the usurpation of power and sustained violence. ASEAN must act to effectively stop the brutal crackdown by the Tatmadaw on the peoples of Myanmar and to restore democracy throughout the country. ASEAN must take concrete steps to uphold its cherished values of democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms in the region.

[1] Official name of the armed forces of Myanmar.