On November 20, 2020, Burma’s National League for Democracy party, or NLD, won an overwhelming majority of votes in the national election. Less than three months later, the Burmese military, seized control of Burma’s government and detained the country’s leaders, including State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, as well as members of their political party. The regime launched the coup on February 1, 2021, as the newly elected Parliament was preparing for its initial session.
The regime used lethal force to suppress protests throughout the country. According to the NGO Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, Burmese security forces killed over 2,000 people, and arbitrarily arrested over 14,000. The military also expanded abusive operations in ethnic minority areas, displacing more than 750,000 people.
In an attempt to stop the bloodshed, leaders of the nine other ASEAN countries met with Burma’s military Commander-in-Chief General Min Aung Hlaing. They prevailed upon him to agree to the Five-Point Consensus by which the Burmese military regime agreed to end the violence in Burma; to hold dialogue among all parties; to accept the appointment of a special envoy; to accept humanitarian assistance by ASEAN; and to allow the special envoy to meet with all parties.
Unfortunately, the agreement changed nothing as the military regime has consistently failed to uphold its commitments. “It’s unfortunately safe to say that we’ve seen no positive movement,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“We continue to see the repression of the Burmese people. We continue to see violence perpetrated on them by the regime. We continue to see virtually the entire opposition in jail or in exile. And we continue to see a terrible humanitarian situation, exacerbated by the fact that the regime is not delivering what’s necessary for the people.”
“We will continue to look for ways that we … and other countries can effectively put pressure on the regime to move back to the democratic path,” said Secretary Blinken.
“Regional support for the regime’s adherence to the Five-Point consensus developed by ASEAN is … critical. … All the ASEAN countries need … to continue to demand an immediate cessation of violence, the release of political prisoners, and a restoration of Burma’s democratic path.”
“All countries have to continue to speak clearly about what the regime is doing in its ongoing repression and brutality,” said Secretary Blinken. “We have an obligation to the people of Burma to hold the regime accountable.”