Myanmar: ASEAN denounces lethal regime airstrikes
ASEAN chair Indonesia has called for immediate action and an end to violence in Myanmar. The death toll remains unclear, but reports suggest over 100 people may have been killed.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued a statement Thursday strongly condemning the recent air strikes in Myanmar, which have resulted in dozens of reported deaths, including that of civilians.
The attack on Tuesday morning targeted the remote Kanbalu township in Myanmar's central Sagaing region. The official death toll from the strike remains unclear, though at least 100 deaths have been estimated by several sources, the AFP news agency reported.
What ASEAN said in its statement
Current ASEAN chair Indonesia released the statement, calling for an end to all forms of violence and stressing the need for immediate action to create dialogue and find a sustainable peaceful solution in Myanmar.
"All forms of violence must end immediately, particularly the use of force against civilians. This would be the only way to create a conducive environment for an inclusive national dialogue to find a
sustainable peaceful solution in Myanmar," Indonesia said in the statement.
Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, is serving as the 2023 chair of ASEAN and will host the 10-member bloc's annual leaders' meetings in May and September.
The country has been working to implement a five-point consensus agreed upon with the Myanmar junta in April 2021, which calls for an end to violence and dialogue between the military and rebels.
A junta spokesperson confirmed the attack, saying they targeted a ceremony held by the National Unity Government (NUG) for their armed People's Defence Force and added that the attack aimed to restore peace and stability in the region. The junta has declared the NUG a terrorist organization.
Strikes draw international criticism
The strike drew swift condemnation from the United Nations and Western powers. UN rights chief Volker Turk expressed horror at the deadly attack.
A villager from the area reported that it was difficult to identify the dead because they had been dismembered.
Indonesia's plan has been largely ignored by the junta, and attempts by ASEAN countries to mediate have so far failed. Indonesia earlier this year announced plans to set up a special envoy's office under the foreign ministry to establish a low-level dialogue with the junta, but no details have emerged of such talks.
The junta remains an ASEAN member but has been barred from top-level summits over its failure to implement the peace plan.
Following the coup that overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government in 2021, a military crackdown on dissent and armed groups opposed to their rule has left more than 3,200 people dead, according to a local monitoring group.