Human rights groups stated that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) urgently needs to resolve Myanmar’s “horrible” human rights and humanitarian crises, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 health emergency and the recent floods, and warned the regional organizations to avoid granting legality. The army of the country.

Since ASEAN reached an agreement with Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Lai in April, requiring “an immediate cessation of hostilities”, the appointment of a mediator to initiate negotiations, and the provision of humanitarian assistance through the following methods, “very little progress has been made” by the ASEAN Humanitarian Coordination Office, Asia The Forum and Voice of Progress stated in a joint statement on Wednesday.

It has passed since Min Aung Hlaing launched a coup in Myanmar on February 1, preventing the country’s elected members of parliament from forming a new government while imprisoning many of the most senior leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi For six months.

Min Aung Lai Appoint yourself The prime minister also promised to hold free elections in 2023—later than he promised when he came to power—this move was quickly condemned by the international community and Burmese civilian politicians as a strategy to prevent the country from returning to democratic rule.

According to the Human Rights Organization Aid Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the violence following the military coup has killed more than 900 people, most of them civilians, with more than 7,000 arrested and nearly 5,500 detained.

The coup also intensified the conflict between the country’s army and national insurgent groups, sparking new conflicts, at least forcing 230,000 people Escape from their homeland.

In the deepening political crisis, the country is also facing a health emergency parallel to the Delta variant, which has contributed to a surge in new coronavirus cases and deaths, and overwhelmed the country’s medical system.

So far, Myanmar officials have reported more than 300,000 cases and 10,000 deaths, although the number of casualties is thought to be much higher. There is a warning that The country may become a “super spreader” country.

On Sunday, Zin Mar Aung, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar’s Shadow Opposition National Unity Government (NUG), warned that the country’s COVID-19 crisis “​​The worst has yet to come.”

At a press conference on Wednesday, NUG Human Rights Minister Aung Myo Minn added: “Every day that ASEAN does not take action is another day when we lose our lives. ASEAN must take action, and it must take action now.”

Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department accused the military of delaying the process of restoring democracy in the country, as Secretary of State Anthony Brinken urged ASEAN to step up efforts to resolve political unrest caused by power struggles.

A’s inaction

FORUM-ASIA and Progressive Voice accused the UN Security Council of inaction in responding to the ongoing crisis and transferring responsibilities to ASEAN. Myanmar joined a 10-member organization in 1997.

Representatives of human rights organizations said that ASEAN should not cooperate with the military government, but should immediately coordinate with the opposition NUG and the National Health Organization, and provide emergency assistance through “cross-border channels” and local humanitarian networks. ASEAN did not invite NUG representatives to participate in the special summit with Min Aung Hlaing in April.

This week, the ASEAN foreign ministers of 10 member states, including Myanmar, are holding talks to discuss regional issues. But it is not clear whether they will take decisive measures to resolve the situation in Myanmar, including the appointment of a special envoy.

Currently, humanitarian assistance to Myanmar is intended to be provided through the ASEAN Disaster Management Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Center (known as the AHA Center).

However, civil society and rights groups expressed concern about the AHA Center because its governing body is represented by the military government.

In the past, the AHA Center has been blamed for failing to resolve the 2017 Rohingya humanitarian crisis.

“The AHA Center failed to acknowledge the atrocities committed by the Myanmar military, and their negligence has deeply ingrained the apartheid situation that Rohingya continue to suffer today,” said Khin Ohmar of Voice of Progress.

Khin Ohmar added: “The AHA Center is not authorized or able to provide assistance to the people of Myanmar in a way that does not provide the military government with tactical and political advantages.”

NUG Human Rights Minister Aung Myo Minn stated that the Myanmar military has a “long history of weaponizing humanitarian aid” and the COVID crisis is no exception [Myanmar News Agency Handout Photo via AFP]

She said that with the AHA center, the Myanmar military “can decide the terms of humanitarian assistance.”

Aung Myo Minn also pointed out on Wednesday that the military “has a long history…weaponizing humanitarian aid for its own political benefit” and that COVID-19 will not be any different.

Me Me Khant of the Milk Tea Alliance, an online campaign against military rule, said that humanitarian groups “may need to go beyond ASEAN” to help.

“We cannot provide assistance through this cruel military government,” she said on Wednesday.

“If there was no attempt to stage a coup, we would not be here. Thousands of people are dying.”

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