ASEAN warns Myanmar of more executions, says it will rethink its peace plan

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be forced to reconsider a 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 had been pushing for Myanmar to adhere to a five-point peace “consensus” reached last year and condemned the recent execution of four democracy activists by the junta.

“If more prisoners are executed, we will be forced to rethink…our role vis-à-vis the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus,” said Hun Sen, who is the current ASEAN chairman and spoke at the start of a meeting of the group’s foreign representatives. ministers

Hun Sen said ASEAN unity has been tested by the political and security implications of the situation in Myanmar, which has escalated into an economic and humanitarian crisis.
The prime minister said that while the five-point consensus had “not achieved everyone’s wishes”, progress had been made, including in the delivery of humanitarian aid.
But he added that the current situation had “changed considerably” and could be considered even worse than before the peace agreement due to the execution of the militants by the junta.
Cambodia along with other ASEAN member states “are deeply disappointed and troubled by the execution of these opposition activists, despite calls I and others have made for the death sentences to be dropped. reconsidered,” Hun Sen said.

A senior US State Department official said the United States was “examining what could be done to maintain and increase pressure on the regime to end the grip of violence”.

Human rights groups condemn the execution of four people in Myanmar image

Last week, Myanmar’s military defended the execution of the militants as “justice for the people”, sweeping away a barrage of international condemnation, including from its closest neighbours.
The army said it executed the activists for aiding “acts of terror” by a civil resistance movement, the first executions 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 instead.
Since late last year, ASEAN has banned Myanmar’s junta from its meetings due to its lack of progress in implementing the peace plan.

Some other ASEAN members, who have a tradition of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, have been increasingly vocal in their criticism of the generals.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah described the executions as a crime against humanity and appearing to mock the ASEAN peace plan.
“On Myanmar, they are all furious with the executions of the past week and will seek to prove that ASEAN is not completely castrated,” said Greg Poling, director of Southeast Asian studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies based in Washington.
Yet an Asian diplomat who declined to be identified wondered what further steps ASEAN would be prepared to take.
“The five-point consensus was useful because Myanmar had agreed to it…now, apart from making statements and providing humanitarian aid, can you do anything without Myanmar there? Honestly, I don’t don’t know,” the diplomat said.
With no Myanmar representatives present at the summit – evidenced by the country’s prominent empty chair – Cambodia’s ASEAN spokesperson admitted on Tuesday that progress on the dispute could be tricky.

The February coup plunged Myanmar into disarray, with the death toll from a brutal military crackdown on dissent surpassing 2,100, according to a local monitoring group.