Human Rights Watch (HRW) Tuesday urged governments attending Asian summits in November to support tougher sanctions to curb human rights abuses by Myanmar’s junta. The Myanmar junta seized power in February 2021 and has since then committed “widespread and systematic abuses,” according to HRW.
International leaders will gather for a series of summits in Asia this month. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will meet on November 10-13. G20 leaders and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group will then meet November 15-16 and the 13-17, respectively. World leaders such as the US, the EU and Japan are expected to be in attendance.
Ahead of the summits, HRW released a statement urging government leaders to take action against Myanmar’s junta. While ASEAN already barred junta representatives from high-level meetings, HRW argued the action does not go far enough. HRW Asia Director Elaine Pearson said, “Myanmar’s military is committing atrocities while ASEAN countries and others just stand on the sidelines. It’s not enough to condemn the junta and hope it will change its conduct or move toward democracy: stronger actions are needed.”
In order to uphold ASEAN’s “people-oriented, people-centered” commitment, HRW urged governments to adopt sanctions against Myanmar and support a UN Security Council resolution imposing a global arms embargo on Myanmar. The HRW suggested the US, the UK and the EU impose economic sanctions targeting the Myanmar junta, since Myanmar’s foreign revenues are held in the countries’ currencies. The foreign revenue comes from natural gas and mining transactions between Myanmar and countries such as Malaysia and Singapore, among other ASEAN countries.
The international community has taken some action against Myanmar’s junta. At the 2021 ASEAN summit, leaders agreed to a “five point consensus,” which was almost immediately dismissed by the junta as mere suggestions. The US, Canada, the UK, and the EU have also all issued numerous rounds of sanctions. HRW said those sanctions primarily targeted domestic revenues, which are largely outside of the influence of international sanctions.