Sep 27 Statement by ASEAN Chair, Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo

The ASEAN Foreign Ministers had a full and frank discussion on the situation in Myanmar at their Informal Meeting this morning in the UN and agreed for the Chair to issue this Statement. They were appalled to receive reports of automatic weapons being used and demanded that the Myanmar government immediately desist from the use of violence against demonstrators. They expressed their revulsion to Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win over reports that the demonstrations in Myanmar are being suppressed by violent force and that there has been a number of fatalities. They strongly urged Myanmar to exercise utmost restraint and seek a political solution. They called upon Myanmar to resume its efforts at national reconciliation with all parties concerned, and work towards a peaceful transition to democracy. The Ministers called for the release of all political detainees including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The ASEAN Foreign Ministers expressed their concern to Minister Nyan Win that the developments in Myanmar had a serious impact on the reputation and credibility of ASEAN. They noted that Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has spoken to his ASEAN counterparts over the past day, and will be writing to Senior General Than Shwe.

The ASEAN Foreign Ministers gave their full support to the decision of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to send Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari to Myanmar. They welcomed FM Nyan Win’s assurance that a visa would be issued to Mr Gambari in Singapore. They asked the Myanmar government to cooperate fully and work with him. Mr Gambari’s role as a neutral interlocutor among all the parties can help defuse the dangerous situation. The Ministers urged the Myanmar government to grant him full access to all parties in Myanmar, as they had done in the past.

Statements, and more statements. To be fair, put into perspective, ASEAN’s latest statement is slightly more strongly worded than usual. It’s good that PM Lee is writing directly to Than Shwe, Myanmar’s top dictator. I hope it contains even stronger words than the above statement.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters at the UN that “pressure from Asean is the strongest tool we have” to stop the violence. I hope ASEAN leaders understand the weight of responsibility that the grouping has to prevent further violence against civilians.

Singapore needs to demonstrate its leadership in this crisis, just like it did in the wake of the 2004 Asian Tsunami. Miss this boat, and we can be sure that the international community will write off both us and ASEAN as credible players in the world.

"It’s really bad in Yangon now…please can someone do something for our country"

These are some of the pictures posted by Myanmarese bloggers from the events that have taken place today.


Here’s what ko-htike wrote:

To all folk, it is really bad in YGN, pLs can someone do something for our country, now inside YGN it has been look like War Zone, i even heard stooting over the phone. it is over 50 shots, right now. but people are not giving up to protest and more and more people coming out to street.

they even used tear gas into primary school.

Now, the government is trying to make a diversion. They give 10,000 kyats (around $7) & a set of Thin Gan(yellow robe) to “Swan Arr Shin”(like USDA which the form as a group that to crash down violently to protester) team and make them to pretend as Monks. Then, command to destroy the Islamic Mosque. This intends to become a fight between Buddhisms & Islams. So, if u hear or see the news that the monks are destroying the Mosque, these are not real monks. They are just fakes. As u all know, the real monks have no intention like that. So, give this information to Islams who u know and tell them

Today picture in Sule around noon before open fire(now regime open fire into these group, and used fireengine to sweep the blood on the street )

I heard that the Singapore government is on standby to evacuate Singaporeans from Yangon if it gets really ugly. The Singapore government knows a massacre is looming. But they are just talking and issuing statements.

Drastic action is needed NOW. Singapore and ASEAN have always boasted that their constructive engagement of Myanmar made it easier to dialogue with them. Now is the time to use that relational capital. Take out the big stick and tell the generals that they are out of ASEAN if they use any more deadly force of civilians. Singaporeans need to tell our government to stop hiding behind diplomatic statements! And Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, what are they all doing?

In an interview with the Straits Times, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo was asked what ASEAN would do if the junta becomes more repressive in the weeks to come. The minister said, “If…there is repression and violence where many people die…ASEAN can issue statements. ASEAN can shed tears. But at that point in time, it will be a fight within Myanmar itself.”

Bravo! Let’s just wash our hands clean of this and say, “What to do? Die, die lor!”.

ASEAN has proven itself to be one huge, big talkshop. No action, talk only.

Singapore-led ASEAN must take immediate, concrete action in Myanmar to prevent bloodshed

Today, I read the sad news in TODAY that carried an AFP report that at least five monks and one civilian were killed by Myanmar’s security forces. Witnesses said they saw one monk with a gunshot wound to the head.

Channel NewsAsia reported that two monks were beaten to death by riot police. A total of four people were reported killed when security forces used live ammunition on protesters.

The Irrawady has reported that on Sep 26, three monks were shot by military and riot police forces in Ahlone Township. Two monks and one nun were reportedly shot by military forces near Sule Pagoda. Another source told The Irrawaddy earlier that one of the injured died, but the report cannot be confirmed. At least two protestors were shot by security forces in downtown Yangon near Sule Pagoda. One protestor reportedly died, according to people who took part in the demonstration. The source said the soldiers continued firing at the demonstrators, who numbered several thousand. At the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, riot police beat some monks and dragged others away into waiting trucks.

I expect that these are just the opening volleys. A dawn to dusk curfew has already been ordered. The suffering people of Myanmar are not going to just give up and stay home. They know there is no turning back. They are going to continue to come out on the streets, violating the curfew. The military, sensing the threat to its existence, is going to start using Tiananmen-style measures to suppress them. This might include rolling out tanks and machine-gunning down crowds of unarmed civilians. An estimated 3,000 students and monks died in the pro-democracy uprising in 1988.

As all this murder is being committed against unarmed civilans, what is ASEAN doing? What is Singapore, the current chairman of ASEAN doing?

The Singapore Government has issued several statements voicing “concern” for the situation. It is quite obvious that our government cares more about the damage Myanmar is doing to ASEAN’s credibility, than the deaths of the protesters.

Singapore is now throwing its support behind the UN mission to Myanmar, which is led by Dr Ibrahim Gambari, a former Nigerian diplomat. While I applaud Dr Gambari and the UN’s effort, why is it that ASEAN cannot take the lead to bear down pressure on the military junta not to massacre its own people again, like it did 19 years ago?

Singapore is now the chairman of ASEAN. The Singapore Government’s lack of leadership in the situation in Myanmar makes me feel ashamed — absolutely ashamed — as a Singaporean!

The Government will reiterate its excuse that the generals do not listen to us. So do we think that they will listen to a non-Asian diplomat from the UN? The fact is that besides China and India, ASEAN wields the most influence over that reclusive regime.

Singapore should be assembling together a high-level ASEAN mission comprising at least Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines to make a immediate trip to Myanmar’s capital to warn the generals not to open fire into the protesting crowds, and threaten to suspend Myanmar from ASEAN if it does so. Forget the so-called principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of fellow ASEAN members. This situation calls for concrete action! ASEAN has a responsibility to protect the people of Myanmar and prevent massive bloodshed.

Even if the Myanmar authorities refuse to entertain the ASEAN mission, there are still other avenues to pursue. ASEAN could approach China and India, Myanmar’s strongest backers, to call on them to turn the screw on the junta. These two countries have tremendous leverage on the generals, because they are the lifeline of support (both financial and diplomatic) for the regime. It is in both their interest that the situation in Myanmar doesn’t boil over, because it will affect their own credibility, especially Beijing’s, as it is hosting next year’s Olympic Games.

The time for action is NOW. We must not wait for the soldiers to spray bullets and roll tanks into crowds of monks, nuns and students before we issue statements of “regret”. The ASEAN Summit celebrating the grouping’s 40th Anniversary is going to be held in Singapore in November. Does the Singapore Government want to lay out the red carpet for the generals whose hands are still dripping with the fresh blood of their own people?

Singaporeans can take action too. You can sign a worldwide petition to be sent to the UN Security Council (including China).

Or better still, blog about it to show our government and the people of Myanmar that Singaporeans care. Send a message to our Government that its inaction will have domestic political implications for our leaders too.