MANILA – The Philippine government has called for the “immediate release” of Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as the “complete return” of Myanmar to its previous state of affairs.
“Our call is for the complete return to the previously existing state of affairs: with respect to the preeminent role of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; alongside the Army her father created for the protection of the people he led to freedom and the country he gave them at the cost of his life. This is what is needed. And the first step should be for the immediate release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and subsequent dialogue among the parties involved in their country’s destiny,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said during the Informal Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting on March 2.
In a reiteration of Manila’s previous position, Locsin said the country remains cognizant of the Army’s role in preserving Myanmar’s territorial integrity and national security.
At the same time, it recognizes the “unifying role” of Suu Kyi in the Southeast Asian state’s history and “its destiny.”
He urged the rest of the bloc to stand by Myanmar and extend necessary assistance to its people and its government.
“We worked hard to give Myanmar back the respect due a responsible member of the community of nations moving, in the face of great challenges, towards fuller democracy. This should not stop now,” Locsin said.
“Indeed, more than ever, we should help all the more. Our appeal is not from the outside but from inside what we claim is one family: a family first of peoples and not of governments; feeling the hurt in one of its members.”
Brunei, the current chair of Asean, issued a statement expressing the bloc’s “concern on the situation” in Myanmar, calling on all parties to “refrain from instigating further violence and for all sides to exercise utmost restraint, as well as flexibility.”
Pushing for a peaceful solution through “dialogue and practical reconciliation,” Brunei said the bloc is ready to assist Myanmar in a positive, peaceful, and constructive manner.
The meeting comes in the wake of a worsening situation in the Southeast Asian nation following days of protests and a violent crackdown by the military.
Last February 28, the United Nations said at least 18 people protesting against the power grab were killed and more than 30 others have been wounded after the use of live rounds together with “less-than-lethal force” by the police and military.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “deeply disturbed” by the increase in deaths and serious injuries and that use of lethal force against peaceful protestors and arbitrary arrests is “unacceptable”.
Guterres urged the international community “to come together and send a clear signal to the military that it must respect the will of the people of Myanmar as expressed through the election and stop the repression.” Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA – northboundasia.com