Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi speaks at a virtual press conference in Jakarta on Apr. 17, 2020. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The Safety of Myanmar People is Top Priority: Indonesia

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA

MARCH 03, 2021

Jakarta. Indonesia names the safety of the Myanmar people a top priority — calling for a halt on Myanmar's military use of force against civilians.

On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi attended a virtual Asean informal ministerial meeting. The Indonesian top diplomat took the floor to express concern over the increasingly volatile crisis in Myanmar.

“Indonesia sees the safety and wellbeing of the people of Myanmar as the first priority. Indonesia urges Myanmar’s security forces to exercise self-restraint and refrain from the use of force and violence,” Retno told a press briefing after the informal meeting.

The minister hoped for Myanmar to open humanitarian access or visits to those in need, as well as the political detainees, including ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Retno noted Asean could play a role in arranging humanitarian aid, as proven by the bloc’s ad-hoc task force, which facilitates the repatriation efforts in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

“Indonesia believes Asean can play a role in [providing] this humanitarian aid. Asean already has an ad-hoc task force for the Rakhine state and we can further strengthen it to carry out this mission," Retno said.

“The Asean secretary-general can also explore humanitarian partnership on vaccines."

Retno added respecting the Myanmar people's voices is a must. Indonesia urged all stakeholders to begin dialogue and communication. The archipelagic state also called for the release of all political detainees to foster a conducive environment for a dialogue. 

"An internal dialogue between the stakeholders in Myanmar will always be the best option. However, Indonesia believes in Asean's readiness to facilitate this dialogue if asked," she said.

Retno highlighted the importance of all Asean member states to maintain the decades-long stability and peace in the region.

"Asean met to discuss the issue and find a solution, but it takes two to tango. Asean's will and good intention to help cannot be executed if Myanmar does not open its door for Asean," she said.

Asean chair — which is currently held by Brunei Darussalam — echoed the need for a constructive dialogue in an official statement following the meeting. 

“We also called on all parties concerned to seek a peaceful solution, through constructive dialogue, and practical reconciliation in the interests of the people and their livelihood,” Asean chair wrote.

“In this regard, we expressed Asean’s readiness to assist Myanmar in a positive, peaceful and constructive manner.” 

Reports of casualties have heightened the global concerns over Myanmar's political turmoil.

Citing a "credible information", the United Nations Human Rights Office revealed in a statement that Myanmar's police and military forces had confronted peaceful demonstrations on Sunday. The confrontation left at least 18 people dead and over 30 people wounded.

"Deaths reportedly occurred as a result of live ammunition fired into crowds in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myeik, Bago and Pokokku," the statement wrote.

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