FCCT PANEL EVENT

Myanmar's Conflict: Tracking and reporting the 'people's war'

Wednesday 23 November 2022 hosted by FCCThai

PANEL DISCUSSION

On Tuesday 8 November, Myanmar Witness hosted a live online panel discussion with three expert guests, Khin Ohmar, Dr Simon Adams and Ambassador Kobsak Chutikul.

The title of the talk was "Striving for impact and accountability in Myanmar: ASEAN post-coup" and it was timed to come out in the run up to the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh where the Myanmar crisis is top of the agenda.

FULL TRANSCRIPT Impact and accountability in Myanmar: ASEAN post coup A Myanmar Witness online event Saijai: So hello and welcome to panel discussion on accountability and impact in Myanmar. My name is Sajai from Myanmar Witness. Thank you for joining us from wherever you are. This is a timely discussion. This week, the leaders from Southeast Asian Nation, a meeting at the ASEAN summit. As we are speaking today in Myanmar, since the coup more than 2000 people have been killed, 1.3 million people are internally displaced and just last week, a military air strike killed at least 50 people as a music concert in Kachin state, and people in Myanmar are asking for justice and accountability. Today, we are incredibly honoured to have three experts from three different sectors, from diplomacy, international mechanism, and civil society to discuss this important topic. The first speaker I would like to introduce, Ms. Ma Khin Ohmar. Ma Khin Ohmar is a human right practitioner, also a founder of Woman League of Myanmar and Burma Partnership and Progressive Voice. Apart from founding all this organization, she also inspired a lot of women in Myanmar in this movement. The second speaker is joining us here. Good morning, Dr. Simon Adams, thank you for waking up so early to join us today. Dr. Simon Adams is a president and CEO of the Center for Victims of Torture. Previously, he also served as executive director of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect. He led advocacy at the United Nation with various government to help prevent crimes against humanity. We look forward to hear from you about accountability and different mechanism to work on Myanmar. And last but not least, Ambassador Kobsak Chutikul. He was a retired ambassador and former member Parliament of Thailand. Thank you so much, three of you for joining us today. We really excited about the conversation and look forward to potential solution and suggestion on this topic. I would like to pass the floor to Ma Khin Ohmar to talk about impact and accountability and what happening now in Myanmar. The floor is yours. Ma Khin Ohmar: Thank you Myanmar Witness for having me join this very important discussion. I'm very honored to be joining the two distinguished speakers, Dr. Simon, Adam, and His Excellency Ambassador Kobsak, especially in this very critical time ahead of the ASEAN Summit especially the last month, October, in October, the outcome of this ASEAN foreign Minister's special meeting on Myanmar was quite disappointing, especially in this time of the crisis in Myanmar, really demands the ASEAN's response in action as a matter of utmost urgency for saving people's life on the ground. And yet, just this morning, I was quite shocked to learn that the Myanmar military junta, this illegitimate body, has been appointed chair of the ASEAN Air Chiefs' Conference. In this time, the junta is intensifying the use of airstrikes, committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against the people of Myanmar. Seriously can you believe it? That ASEAN actually decided and hand it over, the chair, to the Myanmar junta's Air Force Chief. Saying that, let me start on the very topic that we are to discuss today. As, those of you who follow Myanmar know very well there are accountability and justice efforts have been made in the international arena and especially since this Myanmar military has been committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against the ethnic minorities for many decades, as well as also the genocide against the Rohingya minority in 2017. So the call for the justice and accountability is actually not new for Myanmar. So this is reality like it's been for so long and this call has not really been advanced far enough as it should have been. And some, sometimes, especially since last year, I've been wondering what if the world actually held this military to account five years ago, four years ago, when the genocide was committed against the Rohingya. What would have happened in our country if the world actually held this military to account? So far there has been no action to held this military to account, and that's the very reason we are seeing the military further emboldened to do what they're doing now across the country. Following the failed coup of the last 22 months, the path to accountability has even become more difficult. In our opinion. We're seeing that partly due to the reluctance of the international community to take strong, coordinated actions to stop the violence, which allows the junta to continue. As I say, they've come to be more and more emboldened knowing that nobody has taken action against them. But more importantly, when those gross crimes go unpunished, we are seeing of the Myanmar people with no outside world taking the responsibility to protect them- the people, especially the young generation, are now having to protect themselves and defend their life and the life of their communities and the country at large. And this is the very reason we're seeing this resistance movement from the ordinary people, from the professionals, from the celebrities, even university students are joining hands together to protect themselves. Myanmar's, domestic judiciary has traditionally been submissive to and has been weaponized by the military throughout the past decades, while domestic mechanisms established in response to the Rohingya crisis- there were at least six or seven commissions set up by the military as well as also by Aung San Suu Kyi- led civilian government- all of these commissions were never meant to bring justice for the Rohingya people. The worst is that since this military's attempted coup, the judiciary in Myanmar has turned back to become completely submissive under this military junta. But while not forgetting many, there are many lawyers and judges join the civil disobedience movement and working with the legitimate government of Myanmar, the National Unity Government, the current situation leaves international mechanisms as the only available avenue for their accountability. The international community at large really has the responsibility to protect and really must address the escalating atrocity crimes in Myanmar. Effective accountability mechanisms are the precondition to the stable and peaceful future of Myanmar, and also for the regional stability. So while there are ongoing accountability mechanisms and efforts, we must recognize their mandates are quite limited. Currently, we have the independent investigative mechanism for Myanmar, the I.I.M.M. to collect and analyze the evidence of international crimes. Previously, we had the fact finding mission mandated by the UN. Although we advocated for these mechanism, I mean our organization, Progressive Voice and our Myanmar civil society together, we have advocated for these mechanisms, Although these mechanisms are critical, but we also know that they are not able to prosecute the perpetrators. Several prosecutions are also ongoing. We have the Gambia case against Myanmar on violation of Genocide convention in case of Crimes against Rohingya. And also at the International Court of Justice. And similarly, we also have this ICC, International Criminal Court case on the crime of deportation against the Rohingya. While the latter is able to establish individual criminal responsibility of the perpetrators, not just Myanmar as a country, such as in case of the International Court of Justice, both cases don't cover crimes committed against other minorities, other communities, and also the crimes against humanity and war crimes this military junta is currently committing against the people in Spring Revolution. At the national level, we note the commendable efforts of a universal jurisdiction case in Argentina, Turkey, and even now, currently there is a case and efforts are being made in Indonesia. These efforts are important and yet lack in sufficient effort and the enforcement of decision could be even also extremely challenging. Given the limited scope, these mechanisms and tracks still cannot ensure accountability of the perpetrators. More robust actions and mechanisms are vital and essential, and we need the international community to really take these steps to address the Myanmar crisis. And there are many course of actions. And at the international level, we want the world community to step up its actions around the security Council to compensate for the limitations of the current justice and accountability mechanisms. The security council has repeatedly disappointed our people with its inaction, and now it's time to stop referring Myanmar crisis to the ASEAN's failed five point consensus. We need to secure the security council resolution that will refer the situation in Myanmar to the ICC. In addition to also a global arms embargo and targeted economic sanctions against the junta. The crisis in Myanmar is a threat to regional peace and security and stability, especially since the crimes the junta is committing are international crimes. So Myanmar crisis is no longer internal, it is regional and international, and that needs to be resolved and the military's violence needs to be stopped. But the thing is there's so much of the double standards from the Western democracies. You see the case of Ukraine and you compare how much of the support that Myanmar's peoples struggle in defend of their, in defense, of their democracy and defense of their lives, it's even incomparable. So we really think that ASEAN should and also can support a security council resolution. As a regional block, as individual members knowing that they cannot address the crisis. Why are they actually keep being silent. Also at the United Nations stage, they need to be able to say that they cannot do it. But also by saying that - getting help from the security Council, it is actually is not undermining the the dignity of the ASEAN or the efforts of the ASEAN. It is complimentary and I think this is so important. In fact, I raised this during my last trip to the United Nations in New York to the different missions that we met. So that's the international, Yeah. And think ASEAN taking that step, it's going to send a clear signal to the junta that they must stop this war of terror against the people at the national front, countries of democracy must join The Gambia ICG case. And also send expertise, also lend the expertise and support on the litigation to universal jurisdiction efforts such as the one started to be initiated in Indonesia, for example, countries should also support their National Unity's government declaration of Article 12 of the Rome statute so that the ICC can really exercise the jurisdiction to address the international crimes in Myanmar. And countries also must stop lending the legitimacy to the junta and must impose targeted sanctions even at the bilateral level, but in this regard, we are extremely disappointed to see that Australian government- very close to us- continue to remain in inaction and not even taking any action to enforce sanctions on the region. We must remember. We must remember that with absence of justice and accountability, this illegal military murderous, military junta's horrific brutality will continue. This military will do whatever it take at the expense of our people's life to remain in power to be able to seize the control of the country that they are still unable to seize because the people unitedly are resisting. Yeah, the future of Myanmar people will not be there unless this military violence is stopped and held to account. With that, I will end my sharing here and I look forward to our discussion together. Thank you. Saijai: Thank you so much, Ma Khin Ohmar, for your insight. I would like to pass the ball to the second speaker, Dr. Simon, after hearing what's happening in Myanmar and hearing that we cannot really trust the local justice system, what are your thoughts on this in terms of accountability? Dr Simon Adams: Yeah, thank you for having me here today. And I'd obviously like to begin by thanking the organizers, especially Myanmar Witness, and also the distinguished co-panelists. And I also want to acknowledge those who can't speak for themselves today because of the mortal danger that the junta poses to people who challenge them and who are within their grasp. And I don't wanna go over too much of the territory of the previous speaker. I think we agree on the fundamentals of this situation, but it's probably worth reminding ourselves that it's 646 days today since the Generals launched a military coup in Myanmar and, as was previously mentioned, there's been over 2,400 deaths since then, they've got about 12,000 people still in detention at least a hundred cases of people who have been tortured to death while in detention. And yet, despite this kind of two years of almost unrelenting repression and violence, we still see fresh protests. We still see acts of resistance taking place in urban neighborhoods, in towns and in villages across the country. And I think given that kind of catalogue of human misery, It's absolutely appropriate that people inside the country and across the ASEAN region are asking themselves, Where is ASEAN? Where is ASEAN in all of this? And the truth is that ASEAN has been a passive spectator for the most part to this entire crisis, standing on the sidelines wringing its hands. And I think that as was mentioned by the previous speaker, the people of Myanmar have been consistently calling out for the international community to not just watch, not just issue statements of concern, but to act, to do something on their behalf. And I think that's entirely appropriate, not least of all, because the current crisis in Myanmar has its origins in that previous failure of the international community, including most glaringly to hold the military in Myanmar accountable for their crimes. And as was mentioned, especially I think for the genocide against the Rohingya, I think that is actually a very, that for me is a decisive moment in this entire crisis. It's more than five years since that has passed those kind of genocidal clearance operations that I guess we could say intensified in August of 2017. And since then, it's worth noting the UN Security Council has not passed a single binding resolution on the situation in Myanmar and the situation regarding the Rohingya and nor has ASEAN. And that shameful kind of inertia is all the more appalling given that all states who are signatories to the UN Genocide Convention are obligated under international law to prevent and to punish the crime. But, as has been mentioned, thankfully, the struggle for international justice in Myanmar is not subject to a Chinese veto, and it did not end in 2017. Concerned states, civil society organizations working of course, with Rohingya survivors and others continue to push for accountability. A number of states imposed targeted sanctions on some members of Myanmar's military who were implicated in the genocide. And of course, finally, in 2019 it was announced The Gambia would take Myanmar to the International Court of Justice for breaching the Genocide Convention. I was lucky enough to be involved in working with The Gambia in that case, but what was extraordinary was that there was so much push in the opposite direction. There was so much of a push that this was meaningless, that it was symbolic, that it would never work, that it would never achieve something. But I think we've all seen how that's played out over the last couple of years. And I think it's now ironic that The Gambia, the smallest country on the entire African continent, has actually done more for international justice in Myanmar than the entire UN Security Council and all these powerful states and the whole of ASEAN as well. So my hat goes off to The Gambia, and I won't repeat what the previous speaker has said, but there are many other, I think that caused a ripple effect. We do have an ongoing investigation at the International Criminal Court. There are now more universal jurisdiction cases that are starting to happen. But I think this is just the beginning because I think the question we have to ask ourselves is, where does all of this leave us? And the sad and bitter truth, I think is. The lowest common denominator diplomacy within ASEAN in particular, regarding the situation in Myanmar regarding the Rohingya created this climate of impunity that I think there's a direct kind of trail of blood from what happened to the Rohingya in 2017 and the climate of impunity that didn't just enable it, it actually encouraged the generals to launch the February 2021 coup. The fact that there was almost total impunity for what they did to the Rohingya made the generals doubt whether they needed Aung San Suu Kyi or the facade of a guided democracy. Why not just take back all the power themselves? No one's gonna stop them. No one's gonna stand up to them. That was their view. And so I don't wanna preempt too much of the discussion here today, but I think the only way that ASEAN and the entire international community can dig itself out of this moral and diplomatic quagmire and uphold its responsibility to protect the people of Myanmar is to stand against the politics of indifference, the politics of inaction, and the politics of impunity, which have dominated the ASEAN discussion about Myanmar. And that means abandoning this ridiculous five point consensus, which has done absolutely nothing for the people. We should be absolutely clear. It has not helped a single person inside the country and has been absolutely ignored and dismissed by the military junta. And it's time for ASEAN to take concrete diplomatic action. That means an arms embargo. That means targeted sanctions on junta leaders and on things like aviation fuel, which is used to carry out the airstrikes. It means cutting, putting pressure on businesses in the region to cut their ties. No business as usual. With a military that murders its own people, and not just ASEAN States supporting the ICJ Rohingya case, but pushing for more universal jurisdiction cases, supporting the case at the ICC, ASEAN should be leading the push for international justice and Myanmar not watching from afar or following with its head down as other people do the hard work. And so I'll end on this point if I could, which is that, the world was justifiably enthusiastic about the beginning of a shift towards democracy and Myanmar in 2010. But if there has been one fundamental failing of the international community since then, and including, and I would say especially ASEAN and one fundamental failing over the past decade, it's not that it spoke up too loudly or too soon of the ongoing danger posed by Myanmar's military to its own people and to democracy, it's that it's been too quiet, too accommodating and ultimately too compliant and complicit in what has happened inside the country. And so that's why I think I join the other speakers in saying, It's time for ASEAN to hold the generals accountable for their crime, starve them of the cash and the weapons that sustain their dictatorship and stand with those who not only represent the people of Myanmar, but are actively resisting the junta. And I think the future of Myanmar and of ASEAN itself may depend on that. So thankyou. Saijai: Thank you so much, Dr. Simon Adams. I have many questions coming from the audience. I hope we can discuss that after. So I would like to pass the ball to Ambassador Kobsak. Ambassador. We hear a lot from Myanmar. We hear from the international mechanism and the role of ASEAN. What are you thinking of this? What is preventing ASEAN to do what they're supposed to do? And especially coming from Thailand, what do you think the role of neighbour country like Thailand, what Thailand should do and could do in this situation? Ambassador Kobsak: Thank you Myanmar witness for this opportunity and to my fellow panelists for their insights. In response to your question, I think the problem is fundamentally with Thailand. Thailand is the closest neighbor to Myanmar within ASEAN shares a long. 2,400 kilometer border with Myanmar. Many common interests, exchanges, border trade proximity. Thailand can do more, but it has chosen not to. It's deer caught in the headlights when the coup happened next door in Myanmar, and for the most part has hidden behind, taken cover behind a joint ASEAN position, knowing full well that a joint ASEAN position is based on non interference and a consensus rule where anybody can say no to a collective position and we can't have 10 countries agreeing to something when there is Myanmar sitting there at the table as well. So that's a contradiction in terms of itself. So therefore, if Thailand doesn't move, ASEAN doesn't move. Thailand says that, Oh, we'll follow the ASEAN, but the ASEAN knows that they can't do much if Thailand is still out there trying to open or keep channels of communication with the military junta. So the question becomes how we can move Thailand? What are the kind of considerations that will bear that will have weight with the Thai decision makers, with those in power? Those in power, of course, feel that they are also living in the glass house, that they also came from a coup that they also then after the coup had an election, took off their military uniform and changed into the civilian suits. Maybe that's the path that Myanmar generals want to follow. So therefore, understandably in some sense, the Thais fear that they are living in glass house and cannot throw the first stone. But at the same time they must also realize that they can do more. They cannot say that because we're so close to Myanmar a long border others far away have the luxury of distance. But the Thais must be made to understand that they also have the responsibility of proximity. There are certain rays of light, perhaps it could be a generational thing that we have to wait for opposition parties in Thailand. Some parties that were young generation are saying openly that, No, we should recognize NUG- we should even take Myanmar out of ASEAN and then proceed among ourselves. That may not happen. It could happen if there's some bolt of lightning some earthquake in the elections in April, May next year that would be taking place in Thailand. But don't hold your breath. In the meantime, we cannot just continue as we are doing. And then certainly I think other avenues how to approach the Myanmar crisis. The Myanmar tragedy has to be looked at- accountability, legal, and other means. For example as we speak, the ASEAN foreign ministers will be probably having a nice little dinner in Phnom Penh, preparing for the leaders, asking leaders to come for the summit, and then to be joined by dialogue partners from many countries, Europe, America, Australia, Japan joining them in Phnom Penh. The main topic of discussion, the most sensitive one, strangely and ironically, perhaps would not be something that is in the region itself, not Myanmar, but would be Ukraine. Something that would vex people would raise emotions and sentiments and maybe even lead to some walkouts during meetings. So that's a strange one because we have three important international meetings within the region, within Southeast Asia. The ASEAN Summit going on now in Phnom Penh up until Sunday, then to be followed by the G 20 in Bali and then followed by APEC in Bangkok. And at all three, Myanmar probably would not feature on the top of the agenda. Even though it's something in the region, a situation of brave concern of suffering, of misery, of human rights violations of international norms being broken. But there you go. So perhaps we have to first of all try to link up the concerns people have with the Ukraine situation with a similar situation in Myanmar, perhaps even worse, and it predates the Ukraine situation. There is a Russian element in Myanmar as well. There is an element of international norms being broken element of atrocities being committed on a daily basis of people not being held to account. But there we have also people gathering evidence, preparing evidence. 40 or so countries have referred to the ICC to take up issues in Ukraine. Very few have done that for Myanmar. So we have, at least, we have to say, look very similar or parallel moral equivalence. Why not Myanmar? And make that case. I think in these meetings that are going on here in the region saying, Look, okay, you guys, we understand Ukraine far away, but we are also there with you. We have issued statements, we have condemned the situation there. But how about this thing that is continuing here in our region in Myanmar, people suffering, people dying people being brutalized on a daily basis. Then how can you guys go to cocktail parties and receptions and have your usual meetings here within the region, right next door? These horrendous things are going on. I think that message has to be gotten to these people attending these meetings by civil society, by social media, by people speaking out people, real victims, people who have a real stake in this. People like Khin Ohmar, for example, and friends of Myanmar have to be speaking out. But then the people will say, Oh, we can't do much. The Thais will say, Oh look, we have to live with them. We have to go with whoever's in power. But of course then we can say that. "Look, but this will affect everybody, especially the Thai situation. Instability, chaos. Civil war in Myanmar will overflow- drugs, illegal human trafficking, fighting, even fighting around the border will eventually affect Thailand." We have over two million Myanmar workers here already. These things will go over borders and affect Thailand, affect the other ASEAN countries, and it's an immediate concern that all ASEAN countries should address. Time is of the essence. We don't have enough time, so therefore we have to look at innovative ways. For example, these judicial proceedings underway Indonesia, provides a ray of hope, pray you know what's being done by Marzuki, for example. Putting this point to the court, the human rights court. Indonesia, for example, is one of the few countries in the world that has a human rights court. The Constitution of Indonesia provides for human rights protection for all peoples everywhere not only for Indonesia. So this point perhaps if the Indonesians Supreme Court this month were to adjudicate and say, No, Okay, We take this on, we try to amend our own domestic law to say that the human rights court can only look at cases involving Indonesian citizens then, because that is against the 1945 founding constitutions of Indonesia, because human rights is for all. And we have to make the case to all the ASEAN countries that yes, you have signed on to a lot of conventions, international conventions, political, human rights, cultural rights against torture and all that. They may have not read every word of it and just signed on or go with the flow. But there are commitments there. There are international obligations you have to meet, and this legal point has to be made to everybody at all sessions. And therefore we have to look at these things. Hopefully Indonesia, one year chairmanship of ASEAN beginning 1st of January next year, can bring more heft, more weight, and more direction to what we are trying to do. Certainly if the UN Security Council, for example, has this veto thing, why, or let's say why do we think that it will be shot down- a resolution on Myanmar? Let's put it up. The UK as the pen holder should put it up and see who votes against it and put them on record as being on the wrong side of history. And then from there we go to the UN General Assembly. This has been done before these tribunals that had been within our own region for Cambodia. These international criminal tribunals could be set up by a UN general assembly resolution. So given the fact that time is of the essence and that in Myanmar there is such a lopsided power balance and the people are continuing to be brutalized and to be dying, half of Myanmar has fallen below the poverty line now- we have to go for these other approaches to resolve the situation there, or to at least to alleviate it, stop the killing. And therefore, when ASEAN talks about five point consensus, they see this as a vehicle to a solution of the Myanmar situation. They have to come to the realization now, tomorrow in Phnom Penh, that this five point consensus is a limit. It has to be turned in for a better model, or at least to be completely overhauled. It's not even a five point consensus because two of the points deal with the same thing, special envoy. So they are essentially only four points. And the most important point that had been discussed was not included in the five point, but put up in a sort of precedings press statement issued by the leaders calling for the release of political prisoners. Because then you cannot have a dialogue if there's only one sided, only one hand clapping, because who can you have a dialogue with when all the other side or the leaders are locked up incommunicado in jail? So those are the basic things that have to be put into any other five point any six or seven point consensus. And in addition to that, we have to realize that some of our Western partners powers are a little disingenious when they say, Okay, ASEAN, you have five point consensus. Go ahead. You have a blessing. They are forking out the responsibility to ASEAN, trying not to assume the full responsibility. We have to throw the ball back in their court and say, Look super powers, major powers, UN Security Council permanent members- now we have done our best. ASEAN can only do this- because we have internal contradictions that cannot make us move further. Internal contradictions, non interference principle of consensus only, and as Khin Ohmar has said with many of the meetings, Myanmar is still there. How can we have a consensus on Myanmar when Myanmar is sitting around the table as well? So these are the contradictions within ASEAN the process and framework and setups. So ASEAN has to say, come out, be brave enough to say, We've tried the best. This is all we can do. Now, it is the time for the international community to step in, including United Nations time for the major powers to step in time for the other neighboring countries, China, India to step in because this is your responsibility. All of us have signed on to international governance, and now all of us have to act together on behalf of the people of Myanmar who do not have a voice and who are dying, and therefore United Nations at the very least instead of trying to hunker down within Myanmar and trying to keep their jobs, let's have a international Geneva Conference- ongoing nonstop to have all the parties around the table and to say, Oh, at least stop the killing, Stop. And then let's talk, unless we'll see what's the future of Burma, federal democracy or whatever can be worked out in a Geneva style setting. Saijai: Thank you so much Ambassador Kobsak. We have a lot of questions coming in and there are some questions that I would like to ask you all as well. The first question is that right now we talk about the role of ASEAN at the same time, the role of international mechanism, and we know that international mechanisms take a long time in term of bringing accountability and justice. Simon Adams, I would like to ask you the question in terms of how long would this take and how could we balance the path toward accountability, which will take a while for justice and what happening right now in Myanmar, which is people are dying. So how could we balance that in terms of time and also in terms of best scenario that you have, what would be the best scenario in terms of international mechanism taking lessons learned from The Gambia case or like the case toward Facebook, the Rohingya case towards Facebook. Yeah. So what would be the best case scenario and how could we balance this timing issues? Dr Simon Adams: Yeah. I think, to be perfectly honest, I think, the wheels of international justice move slowly and that's just the sad reality of the case. Whether it be universal jurisdiction, international criminal court, international court of justice it's not gonna be something that happens quickly. That doesn't mean it's not important, but it's not gonna happen quickly. But I can say, what would make it move faster? And you know what would bring international justice faster would be if ASEAN actually started leading on this issue rather than being a spectator on this issue. Because in my previous job, whenever we would work with the UN Security Council, the Human Rights Council, particularly the UN Security Council, those who support the spread of authoritarianism in the world, those who are hostile to human rights, whenever the issue of Myanmar would come up, one of the first things they would say is ASEAN doesn't seem to be too concerned about what's going on. ASEAN isn't doing anything on this. ASEAN isn't pushing us to be more active to make the regime more accountable. So we need to follow what ASEAN is doing. It becomes an excuse for inaction. It becomes an excuse for passivity and it goes to what my friend here, the previous speaker was saying- it allows powerful countries, either the supporters of the junta or even those, some well-meaning states who might not be in support of the junta, but to say, this is not really our problem. ASEAN seems to want to just stand on the sidelines, or they can't adopt a strong position on this, so we can't do so either. If that flipped, if ASEAN started leading on these issues, if ASEAN states started standing up an international fora and publicly pushing for accountability and justice for Myanmar, that could be the difference between a justice process that could be, strung out how many years no one knows towards a situation, which is more about finding, truth, justice and accountability in a shorter timespan. Saijai: Thank you so much. Ambassador Kobsak: Just to follow up on that I share the sentiments of Dr. Adams, and his frustration. But at this time, given the two, three years that have elapsed and given the continued suffering within Burma I would hesitate to then look towards ASEAN to take the lead or to be that kind of hope to bring about a resolution in due time. Because there are internal contradictions within ASEAN that has been shown to be at work here. That would make it almost not possible for this grouping of countries, this hetero, this set of different types of governments ranging from absolute monarchy to one party state, to, some mix of democracy and all that to come to a position about one of its own. It has never happened. It has never happened in the what 50, 60 year history of ASEAN. So we have to, I think for what ASEAN can do is to say, to come up and say, Look, we've tried the. There are certain contradictions in what limitations in what we can do. Let's try to have a broader international strategy alliance of like minded countries of major countries or major powers getting together, trying to find a solution and certainly one immediate thing is to get the humanitarian assistance going, channels and all that. Not to hold it up and while that is going on, to have all these things going in so that the people can survive. But then the broader geopolitics of it, Okay, let's see how it works. But I think it would be wrong really to say that, look up to ASEAN because it's never going to come, because, and let's start looking right now and ASEAN itself has to give up this insistence of its centrality, that everything has to go through us. We are in charge of the future of this region of South East Asia. If Indonesia, for example, as the biggest country of ASEAN next year, were able to say that, to say, Look, we have the desire, we have the ideas and we have the partners we think can help us achieve something together, along with, ASEAN I think that then could bring about some incremental at least movement forward. Saijai: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. So I think like we, as you mentioned, like ASEAN has to play a role, but the question is like, how could we bring artists to also join us in playing this, right? . We got a question from the audience to ma Khin Ohmar. Do you see a way of bringing justice and accountability without the overthrow of the junta by the people force? What are your thought on that? Ma Khin Ohmar: It's not possible. It was not possible before even the time when there was people elected, government time it was not possible. And of course, it's even far distant, like a far distant in this time. But I think also, one thing that, know, like many of the international actors are missing is that this military doesn't have effective control over the country. I think that's really important for for us, like to remind the world because when we say that we need to overthrow, actually they don't have the effective control already, but it's just a matter of the people's resistance movement, People's defense force under the National Unity Government, together with the ethnic revolutionary organizations, like when they are in fact advancing their territorial control with the administration, expanding judicial, try to be setting up where there are also service provisions for the people such as health, education and humanitarian aid are actually being carried, like at being delivered and being commissioned by the EAOs and the government, but also the civil society organizations, people to people are working together to address this situation. So I think at this point, if I may, actually go ahead and bring the challenge, the very challenge that we are having is even the young people on the ground are actually even calling on the international and the UN if you don't want to help us, leave us alone. Don't even lend that legitimacy to this military junta because if you cannot help us, save us, support us. Just leave us alone and don't support this junta. That's all we are asking. But guess what? Like I just told you in the beginning of my talk about how the ASEAN already appointed the military junta to chair the Air Force, the ASEAN Air Chief conference for next year, meaning the whole year, this military will be steering the ASEAN Air force whatever, this and that, all these meetings, meaning that it's like a ASEAN already given a green light to the junta to commit these air strikes and crimes against humanity and war crimes. At this point, we are taking that not only that ASEAN failed the Myanmar people, the ASEAN is now actively aiding and abetting the military junta to continue to commit these crimes against the people. So that's where we are. But let me bring you another major problem that we're having. The challenge is from the United Nations, because we talk about if ASEAN cannot do it let's get the UN secretary UN Security council. But let's face the reality. Just as recently as yesterday or a day before, the Myanmar's legitimate government foreign minister and deputy foreign minister were invited to be a part of this global town hall meeting called Sustaining Peace and Development in a divided World. They were invited by the foreign policy community of Indonesia, Fpci. Yeah. Along with the other, foreign, other dignitaries like this the un UN former un Secretary General, former foreign ministers from this and the country, and, including the current UN the us foreign foreign us. I forgot what is the title, but. You know what happened? The UN high level official rejected the UN for UN high level official, inform the FCI to actually bar the N u G ministers to attend this meeting. How could that happen? It comes from the UN, here we are. This, That's what I'm talking about. The whole hypocrisy. Yeah. Why, how can the UN actually stop the Myanmarr people's elected legitimate representatives to be attending a regional global meeting? Not even the UN official meeting. I don't get it. Really. I don't get it. So here I am. If I may go ahead and propose. Honestly, I have no faith in the ASEAN anymore. I have no faith in the UN. I'm only going to be calling for the like-minded countries who have the dignity of their own claim, being democracy, who have the self respect of their own democracy needs to come together and form the willing, the coalition of the willing like-minded individual countries to really address this Myanmar crisis. Because ASEAN and UN together are completely non reliant, we have no confidence in these bodies anymore. So we need to overthrow this military. And we, the Myanmar people that, especially the young generation, are so determined that resilience, that resistance come to be stronger than ever. The more violence the military take, commit such crimes, the more people are determined to get rid of them. I think the UN and needs to realize, unless they do something as they are supposed to do, it, is really is in hands of the Myanmar people at that point, they should not even, come into the Myanmar and do this program of development and peace and human rights and whatever, because they are all irrelevant in the current landscape of our country. Saijai: Wow. Thank you Ma Khin Ohmar for sharing that insight. Dr. Simon or Dr. Kobsak would you like to respond to that? You mentioned about the role of ASEAN, the role of UN and Ma Khin Ohmar also mentioned that people in Myanmar are losing hope toward ASEAN and UN. They were saying that if at least the UN is not supporting Myanmar, at least recognize NUG, so as people in Myanmar are losing hope in the international community, is there anything you would like to share or any mechanism that you think might still work? Ambassador Kobsak: While certainly those sentiments are very understandable. People in Myanmar, fighting for their lives, for their future for the next generation for what is right. And they see that the world basically doesn't care. The world is going on the basis of geopolitics, power, politics, self-interest, camouflaged as national interest, and they have to look to themselves, and as Khin Ohmar says, who will stand with them? We get to that point now, we're getting to that point, getting beyond the processes, ASEAN. ASEAN says, Oh, this is our region, we'll handle this, we have a five point consensus. We have a program. No, there's nothing there. International organization, UN Secretary General hasn't even been there, hasn't even been in this region to address UN agencies within Myanmar. See it as sort of their blue ribbon certificate of the year, being able to talk to junta representatives, that counts as accomplishment of the year in order to save their jobs inside Myanmar. A bit unkind, but perhaps that is, is what UN offices usually do. So yes, certainly a sense of frustration. Understandable that who, if not ourselves? But that is also the real politic of it. That the situation on the ground will also determine how countries view their own national interests. So I think although that would bring more perhaps misery and deaths, Perhaps as some of the Ukrainians are doing to show that yes, we stand and fight, we will not go away and we are in the right, and if you stand with us, you'll be on the right side of history. So that perhaps sad is how perhaps you have now. And we are all willing to have those sympathetic, to find the right allies, people who standing shoulder to shoulder with you, the like-minded countries and organizations. And also all these processes, Myanmar Witness also, all those trying to do whatever they can in various forums to help. But yes, the essence of it, I think is growing frustration now among the people of Myanmar to say that, look, all these ideas of compromise, and especially these sham elections that are going to be held in what, August, September and the various countries then moving on saying, Oh, look, okay. At least they've taken off their uniform. They're in business suits now. We can accept .That will not mean anything for people of Myanmar who wish to have a better future. Yes let's look at that. And the world, at least now through such programs like this, have to get to know, to come to know the real essence of what the people of Myanmar feel and then to move beyond the various phrases that will appear in joint communications and statements and all that, that are forgotten the minute the ink dries and nothing is done about it, and the misery and the killings and the deaths continue. So this must be on the conscience that they have to look at innovative ways or not -step aside and let others the like-minded countries do something concrete and practical. Dr Simon Adams: I'll try to be quick. I know we've only got a minute or two. So just on the un there's a recognition battle underway at the UN to see who gets to speak on behalf of the people of Myanmar the legitimate elected government currently represented by Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, brave friend, who sat in the UN general Assembly giving the salute of the resistance movement or the junta. And the junta wants to silence his voice. Let's keep in mind they literally sent assassins to try and kill him. And so that recognition battle is one of the things that is playing out on the UN side of things. But I absolutely agree, and I'm rushing a bit because of the time, but what's gonna determine the outcome here is gonna be the situation on the ground. Obviously the bravery of Myanmar people itself and their resistance. But I think that there is also a warning in all of this to Democrats elsewhere in the ASEAN region. What does it mean if Myanmar [junta] is allowed to succeed with what this does? What kind of a signal does that send to other militaries in other Asian countries about democracy, about civil society, and about the maintenance of the rule of law. And I think there's a very strong warning in that, stand with the people of Myanmar or fall at some point in the future. And I'll just end by making that a very general point, which is, sometimes people will say, I'm not Asian. I do not come from Myanmar. Why do you care? Why are you speaking about this? Why is this something that, that you think about and that you're being active about, that you're raising your voice and trying to use your platform about? This is not just a struggle of Myanmar's people. This is humanity's struggle. It was mentioned earlier about the sides of history. I know what side of history I want to stand on is the side that I would implore that every single one of us should stand on. We should all be standing with Myanmar's people and be standing on the side of universal human rights, dignity, and democracy, because there's a lot at stake in this struggle, not just for the people of Myanmar, but for all of us. Saijai: Thank you so much. Dr. Simon. As we have one minute left, I would like to give the floor to Ma Khin Ohmar, as you know that right now the leaders of Southeast Asian Nation are meeting and discussing the issues about Myanmar. What are the message you would like to give to them? Ma Khin Ohmar: ASEAN have all of this vision, community building of this and that and with this vision of ASEAN community, coming to become like European Union or even African Union. Whereas if you compare it's... ASEAN still has so much like shortfalls. And then with many of those, among all of these different shortfall Myanmar always been a problem child. Ever since the former prime minister of Malaysia admitted Myanmar to be a member since 1996. And it's just that, with all of these visions, I think. It's just something that I've, I continue to hope as much as I'm frustrated, I continue to hope the leaders of the ASEAN countries have a far- sighted vision rather than shortsighted, where whatever that their vision, they have to realize that without Myanmar becoming a democratic society, a democratic nation, where the peace and stability and security of the Myanmar people are actually secured and protected under the Democratic rule, that ASEAN will not move forward. As simple as its as will never move forward until and unless Myanmar situation is resolved. Regardless of Myanmar is even a member or not, it's just being in the region, so I think this is something that, you know, As much as they want to hold onto their ego, like whatever, the political ego and economic interest. We know how Vietnam army is so much in bed with the Myanmar military, we know that, but I think it's just for the long term of the, for the sake of the region, for their own people in their own countries. They need to come to the talks. They need to come to be precise and decisive. This is the time for them to take sides. They must take the side, they need to take the side, they need to take side with the Myanmar people at the end. Myanmar will only, can only be Myanmar only if they are Myanmar people. Not, this group of murderous criminal military generals. So I think they must come to realize that. And like I said, this is the time for the leaders to take side as well as like my previous distinguished speaker said the world to take the side. We need to take the side with Myanmar people if we want to even live in our own self dignity as democratic countries, if we want to call those democracy countries. That's all I would like to say, but I just have to, again, let me close with a message from the youth activist who just held a demonstration six days ago in Mon State with a big banners holding knowingly that they can get arrested and tortured and murdered by this military in 24 hours by doing that, they were holding a sign. They said, We're not going to rely on the international community. The liberation of our people is in our hands. I will conclude with that regardless of how the ASEAN will be indecisive and continue to be in this, mode of supporting this murderous regime and that they become, complicit, completely complicit in these crimes. They have to know that Myanmar people are not going to back out. Myanmar people are not going to. The young generation who will lead Myanmar will not give up this fight. So this is the time for ASEAN leaders to take side with the Myanmar people. Saijai: Thank you so much, Ma Khin Ohmar and also Ambassador Gob Sack and Dr. Simon for joining us today. And I would like to give special thanks to the audience you are listening from wherever you are. Thank you for listening and to this part. And lastly, I hope that we will continue talking about Myanmar and we would like to send our support to brother and sister in Myanmar, hope to see you all next time.