The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be forced to revise the peace plan agreed with Myanmar if the country’s military rulers execute more prisoners, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Wednesday.
The 10-nation bloc insisted that Myanmar adhere to the five-point “consensus” of peace agreed last year and condemned the junta’s recent execution of four democracy activists.
“If more prisoners are executed, we will be forced to rethink … our role towards the ASEAN five-point consensus,” said Hun Sen, who is the current chairman of ASEAN and spoke at the start of the group’s foreign policy meeting. ministers.
Hun Sen said ASEAN’s unity has been called into question by the political and security implications of the situation in Myanmar, which has degenerated into an economic and humanitarian crisis.
The prime minister said that while the five-point consensus “did not satisfy everyone’s desire”, some progress had been made, including on humanitarian assistance.
But he went on to say that the current situation has “drastically changed” and could be seen as even worse than before the peace deal due to the execution of activists by the junta.
Cambodia, along with other ASEAN member states, are “deeply disappointed and concerned about the execution of these opposition activists, despite calls from me and others for a review of the death sentences,” said Hun Sen.
A senior US State Department official said the United States is “exploring what can be done to support and increase pressure on the regime to end the violence.”
Myanmar’s military last week defended the activists’ execution as “justice for the people,” brushing off a flurry of international condemnation, including from immediate neighbors.
The military said it had executed activists for aiding “terrorist acts” by a civilian resistance movement, the first execution in Myanmar in decades.
Myanmar will not be represented at this week’s meeting after its military rulers turned down an offer to send a non-junta representative in its place.
ASEAN has been banning Myanmar’s junta from its meetings since late last year due to a lack of progress on the peace plan.
Some other ASEAN members, with a tradition of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, have been increasingly critical of the generals.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah called the executions a crime against humanity and a “mockery” of the ASEAN peace plan.
“In Myanmar, they are all furious over last week’s executions and will be keen to prove that ASEAN is not completely castrated,” said Greg Pauling, director of Southeast Asian Studies at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
However, an Asian diplomat, who requested anonymity, asked what new measures ASEAN was prepared to take.
“The five-point consensus was useful because Myanmar agreed to it… Now, other than statements and humanitarian aid, can you do something there without Myanmar? To be honest, I don’t know,” the diplomat said.
With no Myanmar representatives at the summit, as highlighted by the country’s empty chair in a prominent place, Cambodia’s representative to ASEAN acknowledged on Tuesday that progress on resolving the conflict could be difficult.
The February coup left Myanmar in disarray, with the death toll from the military’s brutal crackdown on dissent topping 2,100, according to a local monitoring group.