Indonesia acknowledged on Tuesday at the 7th ASEAN Media Forum that Myanmar remains far from achieving an inclusive national dialogue, despite its ongoing efforts to encourage such talks. This situation has persisted for over three years since Myanmar's military staged a coup, resulting in the loss of many civilian lives.
Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi revealed that Indonesia has been actively involved in mediating the conflict to help alleviate the crisis. Since taking over the ASEAN chairmanship in January, Indonesia has conducted more than 180 engagements with various stakeholders in Myanmar, all with the ultimate goal of facilitating an inclusive national dialogue.
Indonesia has reached out to multiple parties, including Myanmar's government-in-exile, the National Unity Government (NUG), and the junta's State Administration Council (SAC). These engagements have taken various forms, such as virtual meetings, in-person discussions, and even phone contacts. However, it appears that Myanmar is not yet ready for an inclusive national dialogue. As Retno explained during the 2023 ASEAN Media Forum in Jakarta, "Especially for the NUG and SAC, when I offered, 'Do you want to meet without any agenda and preconditions?', I did not hear any positive response. But it does not mean the door is closed."
Retno expressed uncertainty about the timeline for achieving an inclusive national dialogue but stressed the importance of maintaining the necessary process to work towards this goal. Indonesia still has two months left as the ASEAN rotating chair before Laos assumes the position in 2024. Jakarta intends to continue engaging with stakeholders in Myanmar even beyond its chairmanship. Retno affirmed, "So at least until the end of [our] chairmanship, there will be a number of meetings. But we will not stop at the end of the chairmanship," and noted that they have been in close contact with Laos, the upcoming ASEAN chair.
She emphasized that the approach of engaging stakeholders individually is crucial in building trust among them, stating, "Without trust, it is impossible for them to meet, to talk."
In September, ASEAN agreed to establish a troika of ASEAN chairs—Indonesia, Laos, and Malaysia—as an informal consultation mechanism for addressing the Myanmar crisis. This troika consists of the current, previous, and incoming ASEAN chairs. Malaysia is scheduled to take over the rotating ASEAN chairmanship in 2025. ASEAN has also decided to adhere to the "five-point consensus" as the primary framework for addressing the crisis, a peace plan agreed upon by the bloc in 2021, calling for constructive dialogue among all parties involved.
Amidst these diplomatic efforts, a human rights organization, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, reported that since the military coup on February 1, 2021, the junta and pro-military groups have been responsible for the deaths of 4,162 people, including pro-democracy activists and civilians.