ASEAN foreign ministers to meet Tuesday on Burma crisis

As confirmed by Singapore's foreign minister, who is calling for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi
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PHOTO/AFP  -   Myanmar's ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was hit with two new criminal charges when she appeared in court via video conference on 1 March 2021

The foreign ministers of the ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will meet on Tuesday by videoconference to discuss the crisis unleashed in Burma (Myanmar) after the coup d'état, Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan confirmed on Monday.

The city-state politician called for the "immediate release" of the de facto leader of the Burmese government, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the president, Win Myint, as well as the other detained politicians, in front of the Singapore Parliament.

Balakrishnan condemned Sunday's brutal crackdown by police, who killed around 20 people when they fired indiscriminately in at least seven towns where demonstrations against the February 1 coup were being held.

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PHOTO/REUTERS - Myanmar soldiers walk down a street during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar

"We call on all parties in Myanmar to engage in discussions and negotiations in good faith, and to pursue a long-term peaceful political solution for national reconciliation", he said, which requires the release of Suu Kyi and the rest of the elected politicians. 

"We are appalled by the use of lethal force against civilians (...). We strongly reiterate that the use of lethal weapons against unarmed civilians is inexcusable in all circumstances," the minister said, calling on the Burmese authorities to restrict the use of force to prevent further bloodshed.

The foreign minister said that during Tuesday's meeting "we will listen to the representative of the Myanmar military authorities".

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PHOTO/AFP - Police stand guard along a road in Yangon on March 1, 2021, as protesters take part in a demonstration against the military coup

Singapore, along with Indonesia and Malaysia, have been the ASEAN countries most critical of the coup d'état in Burma, although other members such as the Philippines, Cambodia and Thailand have preferred not to criticise the coup. 

ASEAN - which in addition to the seven countries mentioned above also includes Laos, Brunei and Vietnam - works on the principles of consensus among its countries and non-interference in internal affairs.

The army justified the seizure of power on the grounds of alleged electoral fraud in the November elections - undetected by international observers - in which the National League for Democracy, the party led by Suu Kyi, swept to victory, as it did in 2015.