688 CSOs send open letter to Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong

688 Myanmar, regional and international civil society organizations (CSOs) signed an open letter to the new Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong. They asked him to ameliorate the previous government’s lack of support for those fighting the junta’s illegitimate coup and properly support the struggle for a democratic federal Myanmar.

They said: “We write to urge you to hear our voices, as we fight for a democratic Federal Myanmar that upholds human rights for all and protects the cultures, livelihoods and fragile ecosystems of the Burma / Myanmar who are under serious threat from the illegitimate military junta.’

They called on Australia for targeted sanctions against the Myanmar junta and said Morrison’s previous Australian government “disgracefully failed to live up to Australia’s values ​​and commitment to democracy and human rights” because he “failed to join forces for international accountability, failed to recognize the National Unity Government (NUG) as the legitimate government

and the NUCC as Burma/Myanmar’s highest advisory body, and have continuously legitimized the junta through bilateral and multilateral engagements, including with Min Aung Hlaing”.

Below is a copy of the letter in its entirety:

June 29, 2022

The Honorable Penny Wong

Minister of Foreign Affairs,

House of Parliament,

Canberra ACT 2600

Re: Urgent course change and action needed on Myanmar

Dear Minister Penny Wong,

We, the undersigned 688 Burma/Myanmar, regional and international civil society organizations, welcome your appointment as Foreign Minister and note the commitment of the Australian Labor Party to seek “strong and lasting relationships with the people of Myanmar” when in government. We note your past comments that Australia “cannot be a spectator to a direct attack on Myanmar’s democracy” and your call for the Australian Government to “stand up” for democracy in Myanmar and impose targeted penalties. We acknowledge the commitment of the Australian government to appoint a special envoy for Southeast Asia and to increase aid to the region and to implement a ‘First Nations foreign policy’.

We write to urge you to hear our voices, as we fight for a democratic federal Myanmar that respects human rights for all and protects Burma/Myanmar’s fragile cultures, livelihoods and ecosystems that are seriously threatened by the illegitimate military junta.

Since the illegal coup attempt of February 1, 2021, the illegitimate junta has waged a campaign of terror against the people of Myanmar, amid widespread and massive resistance. There have been over 10,000 armed clashes, which include attacks on civilians through indiscriminate bombing and airstrikes, and over 2,000 people have been murdered by the junta. Around 440,000 people have been forcibly displaced since the coup attempt, as the junta carries out deliberate attacks, killing, torturing and raping, and destroying homes, villages and supplies across the country. In the Sagaing area, the junta burned down more than 5,600 homes between February and April 2022 alone. The junta’s criminal conduct amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity, which it commits with impunity.

The junta devastated the economy, which shrank by around 30%, causing widespread food insecurity. The junta has militarized telecommunications, shutting down the internet in large swaths of the country, blocking access to information through censorship and targeting people to watch. Journalists have been the target of killings, arrests and torture, as well as doxing campaigns and the dissemination of hate speech and disinformation.

ASEAN is complicit in the junta’s campaign of terror. Since the coup attempt, ASEAN has continued to legitimize the junta and ignore the voice of the people. The failure of its five-point consensus was concluded with the only illegitimate junta, which ignored its own promise to implement it. ASEAN has repeatedly invited the junta to meetings, events and military training, providing cover for ASEAN members and Australia to engage with war criminals, emboldening their crimes in the name of from Australia.

The ASEAN Special Envoy for Myanmar defers to the illegitimate military junta and has failed to engage with Myanmar’s legitimate government, the National Unity Government (NUG), the Advisory Council National Unity Organizations (NUCC), Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations (ERO) and civil society.

The ASEAN Coordination Center for Humanitarian Disaster Management Assistance (AHA Centre), an intergovernmental humanitarian disaster management body supported by Australian taxpayers’ funds, lacks the capacity to manage aid aid in a context of conflict where the clear perpetrator and aggressor is the partner in delivering aid. Rather, it exacerbates the crisis in Burma/Myanmar by allowing the military to militarize humanitarian aid, providing a tactical and political advantage while giving legitimacy to the military junta which is the main perpetrator of the violence that drives mass displacement. . Civil society strongly rejects the AHA Center’s divide and conquer approach of meeting with EROs individually and not engaging with the NUG, NUCC and civil society.

The Morrison government has failed to live up to Australia’s values ​​and commitment to democracy and human rights. Your predecessor failed to impose targeted sanctions, failed to join efforts for international accountability, failed to recognize the National Unity Government (NUG) as the legitimate government and the NUCC as the Burma/Myanmar’s highest advisory body, and continuously legitimized the junta through bilateral actions and multilateral engagement, notably with Min Aung Hlaing. Australia’s Future Fund has maintained its investments in companies that provide arms and income to Myanmar’s military junta, profiting from Myanmar’s destruction.

We therefore urge you to change course:

1. Impose targeted sanctions against Myanmar’s military junta, its businesses and all those responsible for serious human rights violations.

2. Recognize and support the NUG as the legitimate government of Burma/Myanmar, and the NUCC as the highest advisory body.

3. Reject the illegitimate junta’s appointment of an ambassador to Australia and accept the appointments made by the NUG

4. Do more to support the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar by channeling Australian aid across borders through trusted local and community humanitarian organizations in consultation with the NUG, NUCC and EROs.

5. Intervene in the International Court of Justice case against Myanmar to fully support accountability for the crime of genocide against the Rohingya.

6. Take action to prevent Australian mining companies from continuing to explore and extract minerals, which are a source of revenue for the junta and threaten ethnic communities and the environment.

7. Put in place a notice for Australian businesses and investors to avoid doing business with the Myanmar military junta and its cronies.

8. Ensure that the Future Fund divests from all companies that supply weapons and income to the military junta.

9. Urge the UN Security Council to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar’s military junta and refer the situation in Myanmar to the ICC.

10. Stop hiding behind ASEAN as an excuse for inaction in Burma/Myanmar.

11. Urge ASEAN to exclude the Myanmar military junta from all military meetings, programs and exercises, and to recognize the NUG and NUCC. Boycott all meetings that include representatives of the junta.

12. Urge ASEAN to move beyond the five-point consensus and work with the NUG, NUCC, EROs and civil society to find an alternative and lasting solution to the crisis in Burma/Myanmar that respects rights rights and democratic principles.

13. Urge ASEAN to revoke the decision taken at the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Consultative Meeting in Myanmar, which places the military junta in the driver’s seat of aid delivery. Ensure that the AHA Center ceases its divide and conquer approach and begins inclusive consultation with the NUG, NUCC, EROs and civil society. If ASEAN fails to do so, cease providing assistance and technical support to the AHA Center for Myanmar.

14. Commission the Australian Special Envoy for South East Asia to engage with the ASEAN Special Envoy and UN Special Envoys for Myanmar to ensure a joint effort to the UN and ASEAN to address the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Burma/Myanmar, in coordination with the NUG, NUC, OREs and civil society.

15. Urge Quad members, Japan and India, to immediately end business with the junta, impose an arms embargo and end all military support to the junta. The Quad must recognize and support the NUG as the legitimate government and the NUCC as the highest advisory body in Burma/Myanmar.