ASEAN Will Only Invite Myanmar’s Nonpolitical Representatives To The October Summit

In response to the closure of access to the ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar imposed by the Myanmar military junta, the group of Southeast Asian countries agreed to invite only non-political representatives from Myanmar at the summit of the ASEAN meeting later this month.

The statement was delivered by Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi after a meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah in Jakarta on Monday (18/10). In his statement, Retno said that the two countries were disappointed with the attitude shown by the junta by not giving access to Erywan Yusof, ASEAN’s special envoy for Myanmar issues who is also Brunei’s Foreign Minister.

“Indonesia and Malaysia share the same view that there is no significant view in the implementation of the five points of consensus. Our efforts as a family have not received a good response from the Myanmar military,” said Retno.

The attitude of Indonesia and Malaysia was also conveyed at the meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers on 15 October.

According to Retno, ASEAN will only invite non-political representatives from Myanmar at the ASEAN Summit which will be held on 26-28 October.

He explained that the decision was taken with consideration of respecting the principle of non-interference in the affairs of other countries and the importance of respecting other principles in the ASEAN Charter such as democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and constitutional governance as well as providing space for Myanmar to restore democracy. through an inclusive political process.

Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office in Jakarta, on September 9, 2021. (Photo: Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office in Jakarta, on September 9, 2021. (Photo: Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Even so, Retno stressed that the decision did not stop ASEAN’s commitment to offer assistance to Myanmar, including humanitarian assistance. He added that the people of Myanmar have the right and deserve to feel peace and prosperity.

The safety and welfare of the Myanmar people will continue to be Indonesia’s priority.

Furthermore, Retno explained that she and the Malaysian Foreign Minister also discussed the issue of Rohingya refugees. Both are concerned about the future of Rohingya refugees.

Retno and Saifuddin realize that the current political situation makes it difficult to encourage the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar voluntarily, safely and with dignity. However, Retno said Indonesia would continue to encourage ASEAN to continue efforts to repatriate Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

The two foreign ministers also discussed efforts to assist the handling of Rohingya refugees in Cox Bazaar, Bangladesh’s border area with Myanmar in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Seen in the photo of the logo of ASEAN and Myanmar's junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (Photo: AP)

Seen in this photo the logo of ASEAN and Myanmar’s junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (Photo: AP)

On the same occasion, Saifuddin said that he and Retno agreed and supported each other on the Myanmar issue.

“We have exactly the same stance (with Indonesia). (We) are very disappointed with the way Myanmar is serving ASEAN leaders who have already taken a constructive approach with the junta in Myanmar, by producing five consensus. But unfortunately, the ASEAN special envoy was not given proper access to visit Myanmar, which allows him to fulfill his mandate as a special envoy, ”Saifuddin said.

Hikmahanto Juwana, an international law expert from the University of Indonesia, deeply regrets the Myanmar junta’s decision to ban the ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar, Erywan Yusof, from meeting Suu Kyi. He added that this kind of situation will not solve the political conflict in Myanmar.

“Because this special envoy’s job is to find facts. When he is looking for facts and he acts independently, he should be able to meet not only government officials but also those who are “in conflict” with the government, namely the people who may be represented by certain figures or those who are members of non-governmental organizations, and of course the opposition,” said Hikmahanto.

Hikmahanto emphasized that the Myanmar junta must give access to Erywan Yusof. Otherwise, the expected settlement will not be carried out by the special envoy.

Myanmar Military Spokesman Zaw Mintun admitted that he was disappointed that the junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing was not invited to the ASEAN Summit on October 26-28 2021. He accused foreign interference that caused General Min Aung not to be invited.

Myanmar is in a political crisis after the military toppled the legitimate government on February 1. They then arrested officials, including state adviser and NLD (National League for Democracy) party leader Aung San Suu Kyi. (fw/rs)

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