Asean foreign ministers meet to discuss violence in Myanmar after airstrike on civilian gathering

Singapore's MFA expressed its 'deep regret' for the loss of life in a recent air strike.

Tan Min-Wei | October 27, 2022, 06:28 PM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates:

Asean Foreign Ministers, including Singapore's Vivian Balakrishnan, met in Jakarta, Indonesia on Oct. 27 in response to an increase in violence in Myanmar.

Escalation of violence

The 2022 Asean Chair Cambodia issued a statement on Oct. 26 condemning the recent escalation of violence in Myanmar.

It highlighted several escalatory events, including an airstrike on what the Asean chair described as a civilian gathering in Kachin state.

This incident appears to be reported by Nikkei, which describes a gathering in the northern state of Kachin where an air strike resulted in at least 60 confirmed fatalities, and perhaps as many as 80.

The gathering was a concert celebrating the anniversary of the Kachin people representation group, the Kachin Independence Organization.

The military wing of the organisation, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), controls the surrounding area.

The military set up checkpoints on roads, preventing the injured from being transported to nearby hospitals according to Nikkei, citing a person involved in the rescue operation.

Nikkei further reported that Myanmar's military, the Tatmadaw, said that the air strikes targeted a KIA base, and that the reports of civilian fatalities were rumours, dismissing them.

Five point consensus

The Special Asean Foreign Minister's Meeting Statement  reaffirmed Asean's commitment to the Five Point Consensus (5PC), stating that the grouping was determined to find ways to better implement it.

Chairing the meeting was Cambodian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn. He emphasised that "the time to act is now", and that Asean needs to act together for the interests of the Myanmar people "at the core" while also respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The statement highlighted the difficulties in addressing the crisis in Myanmar, and said recommendations for the implementation of the 5PC will be submitted for the consideration of Asean leaders during the upcoming Asean summits in November 2022.

A version of the statement is available via ReliefWeb.

Deep disappointment

Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, in a statement issued via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed regret for the loss of life, as well as Singapore's "deep disappointment at the lack of progress in the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus", and the escalating violence and worsening situation on the ground.

He likewise urged the immediate implementation of the 5PC, and that the Tatmadaw should allow access to all stakeholders, likely meaning opposition leaders such as Aung San Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi was sentenced to 26 years in prison, with three of those years having been recently added.

Vivian also mirrored the Asean statement, saying that the Asean foreign ministers discussed proposals to bring to November's Asean Leaders' Summit.

Myanmar was invited to send a non-political representative to the meeting, but the Tatmadaw did not send one.

Fighting in the periphery of Myanmar continues, with independent newspaper The Irrawaddy detailing the ongoing armed resistance to the Tatmadaw.

Related Stories

Top image via Ministry of Foreign Affairs