A senior Indonesian minister on Tuesday warned Labuan Bajo, Indonesia: Southeast Asian nations are at a “crossroads,” as escalating violence in junta-controlled Myanmar looms at a regional summit.
Myanmar has been plagued by bloody violence since a military coup toppled Aung San Suu Kyi’s government more than two years ago and cracked down on dissent.
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN – long derided by critics as a shop for toothless talk – has spearheaded diplomatic attempts to resolve the crisis.
These efforts have been fruitless, as the SCAF ignores international criticism and refuses to deal with its opponents, which include ousted deputies, the anti-coup “People’s Defense Forces” and armed ethnic minority groups.
An air raid on a village in a rebel stronghold last month that killed around 170 people drew global condemnation and further isolated the military council.
It has also fueled calls for ASEAN to take tougher action to end the violence or risk marginalization.
“ASEAN is at a crossroads,” warned Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mahvud, on Tuesday, the first day of the summit.
“Crisis after crisis is testing our strength as a society. Failure to address them will threaten our relevance,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks.
Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday that last month’s air strike in the central Sagaing region was a “potential war crime”, urging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to “signal its support for stronger measures to stem the military’s cash flow and pressure the junta to reform”. .
Pressure on the regional bloc increased Sunday after a convoy of vehicles carrying diplomats and officials coordinating humanitarian relief for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Myanmar came under fire.
Few details have been released about the shooting in Myanmar’s eastern Shan state, but Indonesia and Singapore confirmed that members of their embassies in Yangon were among the group.
Singapore said two of its employees were unharmed. It condemned the attack in a statement issued Monday evening.
Indonesia, which chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year, said two of its diplomats were in the vehicles and “in good condition”.
The shooting took place days before May 9-11 ASEAN Summit On the Indonesian island of Flores, where foreign ministers and national leaders will continue their efforts to launch a five-point plan agreed with Myanmar two years ago after mediation attempts to end the violence failed.
The foreign ministers held talks on Tuesday while their leaders were due to meet on Wednesday and Thursday.
Before officials arrived in Labuan Bajo, the military deployed more than 9,000 personnel and warships to the small fishing town that serves as the entrance to Komodo National Park, where tourists can see the world’s largest lizards.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, in her opening remarks on Tuesday, said the ministers had already discussed “implementing” the peace plan, but she did not elaborate.
A Southeast Asian diplomat told AFP that Sunday’s shooting “raises the urgency of Myanmar as a main point of discussion at this summit”.
The US State Department said it was “deeply concerned” about the shooting and urged the military council to “effectively implement the Five Point Consensus”.
Myanmar remains a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but has been banned from high-level summits because of the military junta’s failure to implement the peace plan.
There was a vacant seat for Myanmar at the meeting of foreign ministers on Tuesday.
Marsudi said on Friday that her country is using “quiet diplomacy” to talk to all parties to the conflict in Myanmar and advance renewed peace efforts.
ASEAN has long been criticized for its inaction, but its initiatives are constrained by its charter’s principles of consensus and non-interference.
Other countries, such as China and individual ASEAN member states, have taken the lead in trying to resolve the Myanmar crisis.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo on Tuesday welcomed international support for the bloc’s efforts on Myanmar, but said the resolution should “remain ASEAN-led.”
US-based analyst Zachary Abuza He said the group was unlikely to make more than “another statement of condemnation of different dimensions” despite Sunday’s attack.
“If a diplomat had been killed, there would have been more pressure on the organization to do something, but frankly they have been so helpless in the past two years that it is hard to see them acting in a meaningful way,” Abuza told AFP. .


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