JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The brutal execution of four pro-democracy activists without fair trials sent a frightening message to the world community that the military regime in Myanmar is defying all international and regional norms despite constant appeals for restraint by the international community and Asean.

Resolution on a global scale must be forthcoming to counter the junta’s travesty of justice, otherwise, the international community’s commitment and the Asean five-point consensus to return normalcy to Myanmar will go to waste.

The recent executions completely contradicted the spirit and content of the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution calling for states to have a moratorium on executions, outlawing capital punishment. An overwhelming majority of 123 UN member states voted in favour of this UN resolution in 2020.

The junta’s closed-door trial handing down death row sentences violates the fundamental moral obligation that the state must protect human life, not take it. The junta violates the right to life as prescribed in the human rights declaration.

There have been reactions of disgust from all corners of the world, labelling the executions an act of evil committed by a brutal junta aiming at striking fear among representatives of democratic forces. This outrage points to the failure of the global community to do anything effective to prevent the junta from committing further atrocities, calling on the global community, and all Asean members in particular, to take these cold-blooded assassinations as a wake up call to the true nature of Myanmar’s regime of terror.

These executions are nothing but a mockery of the international community and of Asean as they attempt to bring peace back to Myanmar following the military coup last year. Instead of collaborating with Asean to find ways out of the political crisis, the junta has repeatedly ignored the goodwill expressed by the regional bloc. So far, Asean efforts have yielded almost no substantial effects to improve the situation on the ground in Myanmar.

At the same time, the UN Security Council has been paralysed by the different views expressed among its members resulting in a “laissez-faire” interpretation by the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw.

The Asean’s five-point consensus has encountered repeated difficulties in its implementation. Asean lacks strategic pressure to convince the junta to undertake meaningful steps toward the proposed peace plan.

Beyond swiftly releasing a statement expressing its concerns about the junta’s actions and urging the military regime to fully and effectively implement the five-point consensus, Asean needs to come up with well-calibrated actions and synergy among other stakeholders, and apply the necessary pressure on the junta in order to prove the bloc’s credibility and centrality, especially during the 55th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting now underway in Cambodia.

If we are serious about restoring peace in Myanmar, a more responsive way must be pulled together, with a more proactive role of the UN special envoy, who has been consulting closely with the Asean chair and Asean special envoy, as well as a more proactive role of other important special envoys or representatives from neighbours and trading partners, as well as Asean dialogue partners including China, Japan, Thailand and the European Union.

The recent executions serve as a stark reminder that more concrete efforts by the international community and Asean are needed. Business as usual with the junta will not work. The Asean five-point consensus alone cannot break the military grip on Myanmar and subdue the junta’s arrogance.

The Myanmar crisis must be internationalised with well-targeted pressure applied to the junta, if we are to have any chance of restoring the pre-coup situation in Myanmar.

  • Pou Sothirak is the executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP). Him Raksmey is a research fellow at CICP, a member of Friends to R2P-Cambodia and a lecturer at the Department of International Studies, Institute of Foreign Languages, Royal University of Phnom Penh. The Jakarta Post is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 news media organisations.