ASEAN urges return to peace plan in Myanmar
By Alastair Wanklyn
Leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations said today security in Myanmar is being shredded by violence between the military government and factions opposed to it.
Last year ASEAN nations agreed a plan with Myanmar’s junta. Since then, factional fighting has intensified.
“The situation in Myanmar is worsening,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said at an ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh on Friday. Indonesia holds the rotating chair of ASEAN.
Myanmar’s military overthrew the country’s elected government last year. It has jailed leading figures of that administration, giving rise to armed resistance groups.
Yangon and other cities now have low-level insurgencies, including shootings and bomb attacks.
Last month a bomb went off at Myanmar’s largest prison, leaving at least eight people dead. And an air strike on Sunday in northern Myanmar killed dozens of people.
Last year, the military agreed an ASEAN-backed five-point plan which includes ceasing violence and dialogue between all parties. It also called for aid deliveries and for an ASEAN envoy to meet all sides in the conflict.
None of the points has been implementedm and Myanmar’s military remains barred from attending ASEAN meetings.
“We must not allow (the) situation in Myanmar to define ASEAN,” President Widodo said.
But the only action the bloc agreed was to task its foreign ministers with a new diplomatic drive aimed at pushing the five-point plan.
Meanwhile, in his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis recalled the violence in Myanmar.
“Let’s think of Myanmar,” he said. “It’s all over the place.”
The Pope also recalled the suffering of people in Yemen and Ukraine. “And what does war do?” he said. “It destroys, it destroys humanity, destroys everything.”
The Pope added: “Conflicts are not to be resolved through war.”