US: ASEAN Needs to Act Now on Myanmar

The US says action is imperative now that junta leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing has named himself prime minister and postponed elections until 2023.

US: ASEAN Needs to Act Now on Myanmar

The United States has said it is imperative for ASEAN to speed up its plan for initiating dialogue and reducing violence in Myanmar, now that the Burmese junta leader has appointed himself prime minister and announced that elections will not take place until 2023.

At the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting scheduled for Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will impress upon the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that it needs to name and send an envoy to Myanmar, as the bloc’s members had agreed to in April, a senior State Department official said.

Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing’s announcement on Sunday that no elections would be held for another two years is “a call for ASEAN to have to step up its efforts because it’s clear that the Burmese junta is just stalling for time and wants to keep prolonging the calendar to its own advantage,” the official said in a media briefing late on Monday.

“So all the more reason why ASEAN has to engage on this and live up and uphold the terms of the Five-Point Consensus that Myanmar also signed up to.”

Blinken will attend various ASEAN meetings this week, during which he will go “deep into the details in understanding the complex issues” in Southeast Asia, the State Department official said.

Of these meetings, the ASEAN Regional Forum is the largest one and it focuses on regional security issues “not the least of which is the coup in Burma, which has impacted all of ASEAN and threatens the stability of the entire region,” the official said.  

“[Blinken] will urge ASEAN to hold the Burma military junta accountable to the April 24 ASEAN Leaders’ Five-Point Consensus to name and send its special envoy to Burma to engage all stakeholders and for the junta to immediately end the violence, restore democratic governance, and release those unjustly detained,” the official said.

As of Tuesday, 950 Burmese – most of them anti-coup protesters – had been killed by Myanmar security forces since the military toppled an elected government on Feb. 1.

In late April, ASEAN leaders convened in Jakarta for a special meeting on the crisis in post-coup Myanmar. The leaders – including Min Aung Hlaing – met in person. They all agreed on five points to be implemented as soon as possible to stem the violence and begin the process of returning Myanmar to normalcy.

ASEAN leaders agreed to appoint a special envoy to Myanmar, constructive dialogue among all parties and mediation of such talks by an ASEAN special envoy, as they called for an end to violence.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi talks to journalist during a virtual press conference in Washington, Monday, Aug 2, 2021. [Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP]

Time for ‘firm decision’ from ASEAN

Six months later, none of these points from the consensus have come to fruition and some ASEAN members have expressed frustration at the impasse.

Retno Marsudi, the foreign minister of Indonesia – a founding member of the 54-year-old bloc – said Monday that “the delay implementation of the five points of consensus would not bring good to ASEAN.”

“It’s time for ASEAN to take a firm decision,” Retno told a virtual meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers.

“Indonesia hopes that this … meeting can decide on the appointment of the special envoy according to ASEAN’s proposal along with its clear mandate and the Myanmar military’s commitment to providing full access to the envoy to carry out its duties.”

Retno also indicated that Myanmar’s junta may be delaying the naming of an ASEAN envoy.

“Indonesia hopes that Myanmar will immediately approve ASEAN’s proposal for the appointment of a Special Envoy,” Retno said.

As of Tuesday afternoon (Washington time), ASEAN had yet to issue a joint statement on the meeting. According to sources in Jakarta’s diplomatic corridors, Myanmar had not approved the person that ASEAN had suggested for the special ambassadorship.

Myanmar has to approve an ASEAN emissary because the 10-member bloc takes decisions by consensus.

For his part, Min Aung Hlaing said on Sunday – the six-month anniversary of the coup – that of three envoy nominees ASEAN had presented, he picked a former Thai minister, but no further progress was made because the bloc then proposed new names.

“Of the three original nominees for the ASEAN special envoy, we agreed to select the former Deputy Foreign Minister of Thailand, Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul. But for various reasons, the new proposals were released and we could not keep moving onwards,” the junta leader said, according to a transcript of his speech published in the state-run publication The Global New Light of Myanmar.

“I would like to say that Myanmar is ready to work on ASEAN cooperation within the ASEAN framework, including the dialogue with the ASEAN Special Envoy in Myanmar.”

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha has close ties with the Burmese military. Prayuth chose Myanmar as the first foreign country to visit after he seized power – also in a military coup – in May 2014, and four years later, Thailand awarded Gen. Min Aung Hlaing a royal decoration.

On Monday, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan voiced American support for ASEAN’s efforts to resolve the political crisis in Myanmar, during talks in Washington with Retno, the Indonesian foreign ministry said.

The Indonesian minister is in Washington at the invitation of Secretary Blinken.

Sullivan and Retno “shared deep concerns regarding the crisis in Burma and recommitted to promoting a swift return to democracy,” a spokeswoman for the National Security Council said.

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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PACOLI NIGHT Independence day celebration at Long Island.

Long Island, NYC, The Pakistan Independence Day colorful celebration arranged by PACOLI at local park of Long Island. Program begins with recitation of Holy Quran. American and Pakistani national anthems were performed. Thousands of Pakistani community members joined Independence Day celebrations with full zeal and appreciated the arrangements. Children and elders face painted with Pakistani …

PACOLI NIGHT Independence day celebration at Long Island.

Long Island, NYC,

The Pakistan Independence Day colorful celebration arranged by PACOLI at local park of Long Island. Program begins with recitation of Holy Quran. American and Pakistani national anthems were performed.

Thousands of Pakistani community members joined Independence Day celebrations with full zeal and appreciated the arrangements.

Children and elders face painted with Pakistani flag and children’s waves Pakistani flag. There was a lot of excitement at the event.

Bashir Qamar, PACOLI patron chief, praised the joint efforts of team PACOLI for such a colorful arrangements of the celebrations.

While talking with VOSA Tv, PACOLI officials said that “We wait for this program round the year and now our joy is tremendous”.

Pakistani singers Sadia Malik, Ataullah Khan Essa Khailvi’s son Sanwal Essa Khailvi, Amna Inam and Junaid Younis performed there best national songs on Independence Day festival. Participants enjoyed a lot on music beats.

Variety of attires and jewelry stalls setup in the festival. Women and girls were busy in bargains for elegant designs and matching jewelry.

American officials also attended Pakistan’s Independence Day celebrations. According to officials, Team PACOLI worked hard day and night for this colorful event and this is admirable.

Participants took Selfies on stage at Pakistan Independence day Festival and chanted slogans “Long live Pakistan”.

A parody play was also performed in Muhammad Ali Jinnah getup. The purpose of the play is to highlights the struggle of Quaid-e-Azam, Jinnah’s separate homeland.

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Source : Voice of South Asia More   

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