‘Dire’ Myanmar situation a threat to regional stability

By Melissa Coade

Monday October 18, 2021

Marise Payne
Women’s minister Marise Payne. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Foreign minister Marise Payne has endorsed a five-point consensus document for the now military-controlled Myanmar, calling for an urgent return to democracy in the beleaguered nation, as special envoy of the ASEAN chair on Myanmar Dato Erywan is due to arrive in the southeast asian nation. 

Erywan, who is also the foreign affairs (II) minister of Brunei Darussalam, will be traveling to Myanmar as the ASEAN representative to facilitate the ‘full and urgent’ implementation of the consensus document.

We call on Myanmar to engage constructively with the ASEAN special envoy to also implement other aspects of the five-point consensus swiftly and completely,” Payne said in a statement on Friday.

“In line with the five-point consensus, we call on the military to immediately cease violence; engage in constructive, inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders; and to facilitate safe, unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance, including by ensuring the safety of humanitarian and health workers.”

The five-point consensus document was signed-off by leaders of the regional Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc in April. It also calls for the new military rulers of Myanmar, who seized control of the democractically elected government on February 1, to respect human rights and the immediate release of people affiliated with the government that have been detained. 

Australian man Professor Sean Turnell is among those who have been taken by the Burmese military — he was a civilian advisor to deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The foreign minister said that she hoped the Myanmar military leaders would engage constructively with Erywan to ‘chart a course out of the current crisis’, which has involved escalating violent force against protesting civilians around the nation. 

Australia, along with the governments of Canada, New Zealand, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Timor‑Leste, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on behalf of the European Union, are all calling for a swift and peaceful resolution to the situation in Myanmar.

As recently as August, reports were emerging that Myanmar’s military junta was refusing requests for humanitarian workers to deliver aid to parts of the country in that were believed to be in need.

Payne added that the deteriorating situation in Myanmar also had worsening implications for the region. 

“We emphasise support for the objectives of Dato Erywan’s visit, including his intention to meet all parties in line with the five-point consensus, and call on the regime to facilitate his access. 

“We reiterate our support for the special envoy role going forward, and stand ready to support ASEAN’s efforts across chairs,” Payne said. 

“We further call on the military to facilitate regular visits to Myanmar by the ASEAN special envoy, and for him to be able to engage freely with all stakeholders,’ she said. 

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