Myanmar and the Importance of Stability in the Region
By: Ahmad Cholis Hamzah**
Asean leaders follow their traditional respect for the principle of non-interference in the affairs of states, publicly Asean leaders adhere to vaunted “ASEAN Way” of non – interference, while privately behind the scenes, quite diplomatic approach takes place to resolve issues causing tension. This practice is contrast sharply with what that of western countries. When Myanmar was under military rules, the western countries such as EU and US expressed their concerns over the way military governed the country with no democracy and warned to impose sanctions; and asked Indonesia or other ASEAN member countries to follow suit.
However, Indonesia at that time preferred to use “ASEAN Way” to convince Myanmar to have democracy. Professor Ketut Erawan of Institute for Peace and Democracy or IPD (the Implementing Body of Bali Democracy Forum) once said that Indonesia shared her experience to Myanmar on how Indonesia embraces democracy without bloodshed, on how Indonesian military was willing to relinquish its power to civilian government. Thai Foreign Minister at that time, Surin Abdul Halim Bin Ismail Pitsuwan together with Indonesian government also told Myanmar military government to choose two options, whether to keep maintaining military dictator regime but isolated in the region, or to open democracy and join ASEAN. Such approach has successfully convinced Myanmar to open its democracy and join ASEAN on 23 July 1997.
Since in its establishment on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, leaders of ASEAN still maintain its goal among others to promote regional peace and stability and adopt the fundamental principles a/o Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another.
Department of International Studies of Alumni Association of Airlangga University after thoroughly monitor current issues on what is happening in Myanmar regarding the prosecution of Rohingnya people is of the view that without intervening domestic issues in Myanmar based on ASEAN’s value; however reminding Myanmar government that the killings of innocent people based on religion and race is indeed has violated the very principle of human rights adopted by all civilized nations. Such killings will be strongly condemned in the strongest possible term. In addition, such tragic incidents would provoke instability in the region and that would be detrimental to the noble goal of ASEAN to promote regional peace and stability.
Madame Aung San Suu Kyi just recently said that the world anger against Myanmar has been based on fake news. However, the United Nations secretary general has warned that what has been done by Myanmar security forces that have forced more than 140,000 Rohingnya refugees to seek refuge to neighboring country Bangladesh could verge on ethnic cleansing. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) advocacy group and John McKissick from the UN's refugee relief organization UNHCR in Bangladesh have sharply criticized Myanmar's handling of the conflict. HRW published satellite photographs allegedly showing Rohingya houses which have been systematically burned down by Myanmar's military. In an Interview with the BBC, McKissick spoke of "ethnic cleansing."
Alumni Association of Airlangga University also reminding Myanmar government that such brutal approach could provoke radicalism that could easily spread in the region where all leaders and people of ASEAN will strongly oppose against it.
We understand that the issue of Rohingnya people is a complex and complicated issue. However, it should be resolved in peaceful way by adopting the ASEAN Way.
** (Head of the Department of International Studies and
Global Alumni Empowerment of
Alumni Association- Airlangga University Surabaya)