Government slammed for inviting Myanmar coup leader to ASEAN meeting in Jakarta

Source – April 25, 2021
Milk Tea Alliance activists raise three fingers in solidarity with the Myanmar people at YLBHI office in Jakarta – April 24, 2021 (Kompas)

Ryan Aditya, Jakarta – Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti says that Myanmar coup leader General Min Aung Hlaing's invitation to the ASEAN Ministerial Level Conference in Jakarta on Saturday April 24 reveals Indonesia's true colours – that it is accepting of human rights violators.

"Min Aung Hlaing's arrival actually shows that Indonesia is indeed very apologetic towards human rights violators not just domestically but internationally", said Maulidiyanti when contacted by on Saturday April 24.

Maulidiyanti said that Indonesia has acted the same way when it received Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Extraordinary Leadership Conference in 2016.

Yet, according to Maulidiyanti, Al-Bashir is a dictator and a fugitive of the International Criminal Court (ICC). "Indonesia once did the same thing during the OIC Conference in 2016 when Indonesia also invited Omar Al-Bashir", she said.

Based on the reception of these two human rights violators, Maulidiyanti is questioning Indonesia's position – which is actually reflected through President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo – with regard to protecting human rights.

The arrival of the Myanmar military junta leader is regrettable because it is as if Indonesia is paying no heed to the violence taking place in Myanmar.

"So here there is actually a question, what face is Indonesia presenting through President Joko Widodo and government officials by not heeding the violence occurring in Myanmar. The aim, rather than inviting the leader of the military junta, is to open dialogue", she explained.

Maulidiyanti questioned what the real aim was in inviting the lead of the Myanmar military junta to Jakarta.

Maulidiyanti emphasised that Indonesia should have invited the Myanmar National Unity Government (NUG) to the ASEAN Leaders Meeting on Saturday afternoon.

"The government should have instead invited the NUG who are the elected representatives of the Myanmar people", she explained.

On the other hand, Maulidiyanti said that ASEAN has a very important role to play in resolving the problems in Myanmar. ASEAN should immediately take firm measures over the violence being committed by the Myanmar government.

The invitation of Min Aung Hlaing to the ASEAN Ministerial Level Conference proves that ASEAN is not a safe place for the protection of human rights.

"It can be seen from the cooperation where they don't want to heed the situation or the importance of acting immediately against the Myanmar government today, meaning ASIAN is not a safe place for protecting human rights", she said in conclusion.

Widodo's response

President Widodo said earlier that the violence in Myanmar must stop. This was one of the points he stressed during the meeting with the eight leaders of ASEAN countries at the ASEAN Leaders Meeting in Jakarta on Saturday.

"At the meeting earlier I conveyed several things. First, the situation developing in Myanmar is something which is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue", said Widodo during a virtual press conference on the Presidential Secretariat YouTube channel.

"The violence must stop. Democracy and stability as well as peace in Myanmar must be restored immediately. The interests of the Myanmar people must always be the priority", he asserted.

Second, Widodo emphasised the importance of General Min Aung Hlaing making two commitments.

An end to the use of violence by the Myanmar military and that all parties must restrain themselves so that tensions can be eased so that a process of dialogue can be begun.

"Political prisoners must be released immediately and an ASEAN special envoy needs to be established, namely the ASEAN secretary general and chairperson to promote dialogue between all parties in Myanmar", said Widodo.

Third, he asked that access be given for humanitarian aid from ASEAN which would be coordinated by the ASEAN secretary general and the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Center).

Widodo also asserted that Indonesia is committed to overseeing the above three commitments so that the crisis in Myanmar can be resolved.

"We will be grateful to God if what has been conveyed by Indonesia turns out to be in accord with what has been conveyed by ASEAN leaders so it can be said that ASEAN leaders have reached a consensus", explained Widodo.

"The ASEAN secretary general has conveyed five points of consensus which will be conveyed by the ASEAN secretary general or chairperson. The contents are more or less the same as those that I conveyed earlier in the national statement which I conveyed earlier", added the president.

The ASEAN Leaders Meeting which was held today in Jakarta was attended by the leaders of the nine countries in South-East Asia.

They are President Joko Widodo, Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chính, Brunei Darussalam Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Myanmar military chief General Min Aung Hlaing, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Hassin, Laos Foreign Affairs Minister Saleumxay Kommasith, Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Soroti Kehadiran Min Aung Hlaing, Kontras: Indonesia Apologetik kepada Pelanggar HAM".]