A month after the military seized power in Myanmar in a coup, the Philippines requested the immediate release of imprisoned civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and a complete return to the previous state of affairs.
In a statement read aloud at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ informal virtual meeting on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. acknowledged the army’s role in protecting Myanmar’s territorial integrity and national security.
“We are profoundly concerned about recent developments in Myanmar as members of ASEAN, indeed as members of the civilized group of nations,” Locsin said, referring to the military’s ouster of civilian leaders and violent crackdown on demonstrators.
He emphasized that the Philippines acknowledges Suu Kyi’s “unifying role in her country’s past and destiny” and that the Philippines has always stood by Myanmar’s side when the country faced “racial challenges.”
“Our call is for the complete return to the previously existing state of affairs: with respect to the preeminent role of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; alongside the Army her father created for the protection of the people he led to freedom and the country he gave them at the cost of his life,” he said.
The immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and subsequent dialogue among the parties involved in Myanmar’s fate, he said, should be the first step.
“In the Philippines, we have a saying: the hurt of the small finger is felt by the whole body. Myanmar is not a small finger but a big part of the two hands that together make up the family of ASEAN 10,” Locsin added.
He urged the rest of the ASEAN community to stand by Myanmar and give whatever assistance the country’s citizens and government need.
After her National League for Democracy Party secured a landslide victory in the November 2020 election, Suu Kyi is now facing charges. The army seized power after claiming that the elections were tainted by fraud.
In recent weeks, mass demonstrations in different parts of Myanmar have taken place in defiance of the coup. During the protests, at least 18 people were killed and 30 were injured after a clash with the police and military.