Myanmar: India’s choices are limited

India can’t afford to undertake any coercive measures in opposition to the army even when it disapproves the army takeover, notes Dr Rajaram Panda.

IMAGE: Demonstrators rally exterior the Central Bank of Myanmar throughout a protest in opposition to the army coup and to demand Aung San Suu Kyi’s launch in Yangon, Myanmar, February 11, 2021. Photograph: Reuters


The army coup and the surprising detection of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and declaration of a state of emergency coup in Myanmar on February 1 have despatched ripples by the worldwide neighborhood.

Repressive measures have elevated and army is unlikely to relinquish energy again to the civilian authorities anytime quickly.

There have been outpouring of considerations and condemnation from the worldwide neighborhood that democracy is underneath risk and human rights violations may enhance.

The focus of the evaluation on this essay is whether or not the centrality of the ASEAN has come underneath risk and if ASEAN can play any function in reversing the scenario in Myanmar.

It shall additionally contact open what doable choices can India must cope with Myanmar, seen because the gateway to its Act East coverage.

Relevance of ASEAN

ASEAN is anxious that the act of the army may very well be counter-productive and undermine Myanmar’s establishment and except political energy is transferred again to the legitimately election representatives, Myanmar may threat again to its pariah standing and face sanctions once more.

Even earlier, ASEAN was criticised when it did not successfully handle the civilian authorities’s dealing with of the Rohingya disaster in Myanmar.

National League for Democracy chief Aung San Suu Kyi additionally misplaced a few of her reputation and legitimacy within the worldwide neighborhood when her social gathering sided with the army in defending the way the Rohingya situation was dealt with.

That time when world opinion termed Myanmar’s motion in opposition to the Rohingya as ethnic cleaning and genocide, the ASEAN was criticised for its failure to successfully handle Myanmar’s Rohingya disaster.

ASEAN must intervene quickly because the scenario is popping grave after the Tatmadaw, because the Myanmar army is known as, not solely put Suu Kyi underneath home arrest first, however charged underneath am obscure legislation and detained until February 15 on allegation that she was in possession of illegally imported walkie-talkies and breached import and export legal guidelines.

Ousted President Win Myint was additionally charged for violating coronavirus protocol.

Regretfully, whereas the reactions from many nations on this planet was considered one of condemnation on the developments in Myanmar, the responses from member States of the ASEAN was different, suggesting a divided ASEAN response.

The truism is that ASEAN can’t sit within the fence and watch. That shouldn’t be an choice.

Unfortunately, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines stand divided of their response to the coup.

This lack of a unified entrance may negatively impression the organisation’s centrality.

It is time to revisit if the organisation can nonetheless follow its precept of non-interference.

When the army junta seized energy, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia expressed considerations and known as for restraint and a peaceable decision of the matter.

But the Philippines initially mentioned it will ‘watch and see’ earlier than taking a place because it noticed the event as Myanmar’s inner matter.

Cambodia dismissed the coup as an inner matter and that it must be resolved by the individuals of Myanmar themselves.

Vietnam, Laos and Brunei avoided issuing any formal assertion, although Brunei as the present chair of the organisation, known as for a dialogue amongst events, reconciliation and a ‘return to normalcy’.

Myanmar: India’s choices are limited

IMAGE: Mynamar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, second from left, together with different leaders of ASEAN member nations on the thirty fifth ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, November 3, 2019. Photograph: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

It is unlucky that ASEAN member States took various nationwide stances on the scenario in Myanmar, elevating questions on ASEAN’s centrality.

It can be attention-grabbing to notice that Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a key participant within the 2014 army coup in Thailand, voiced for a ‘collective stand’ that ASEAN ought to tackle the problem.

The irony is that ASEAN member nations interpret their very own manner each time a improvement reminiscent of in Myanmar now or in Thailand prior to now happens and reply in their very own methods, thereby diluting provisions enshrined within the Charter and thus undermining the centrality of the organisation.

Does it imply that ASEAN’s decision-by-consensus mannequin and doctrine of non-intervention as seen by watchers of ASEAN affairs as hindrances to securing ASEAN’s centrality?

The indisputable fact that ASEAN lacks any punitive sanction-based compliance mechanism results in the organisation’s incapability to carry its member states accountable for his or her failure to stick to the organisation’s democracy ideas and hinders from taking a typical place each time a improvement reminiscent of in Myanmar takes place.

The situation of human rights is thus a far cry on this narrative.

Myanmar in the present day is totally different than what it was in 1988 when Ne Win who led the nation within the path of autarky and isolationism, culminating within the “8888 Uprising” and its bloody putdown in August 1988.

This time round, General Min Aung Hlaing who seized energy is unlikely to afford such luxurious because the nation may come underneath extreme sanctions from western nations.

Now is an efficient alternative for the ASEAN to construct a world picture of itself as a ‘good world citizen’.

ASEAN is unlikely to decide on any coercive measures because the regional physique has lengthy insisted its precept of non-interference as important to keep up ASEAN’s “centrality” amongst regional establishments.

So, censuring Myanmar with a unified voice is out of the query.

Even when Myanmar joined the regional physique in 1997, the group relied on a coverage of ‘constructive engagement’ to steer then ruling army junta to be extra accommodating of its residents’ aspirations and search a compromise with Suu Kyi.

The individuals in Myanmar needed to wait for an additional 13 years extra to style democracy when the junta agreed to carry a multi-party election that resulted in a military-civilian power-sharing settlement.

Myanmar: India’s choices are limited

IMAGE: Demonstrators protest in Myanmar, February 11, 2021. Photograph: Reuters

Options for India

India does have its personal strategic pursuits in sustaining cordial relations with Myanmar because the nation is vital for India to execute its Act East Policy.

There can also be strategic competitors with China in cultivating Myanmar.

Even prior to now through the rule by army junta, India continued to have interaction and the identical shall positively proceed with even with a change in regime.

India’s best option appears to be to proceed partaking with the army and persuade the junta to see the deserves of democracy and adjust to the peoples’ aspirations.

India can’t afford to undertake any coercive measures in opposition to the army even when it disapproves the army takeover.

India’s choices are subsequently limited.

Dr Rajaram Panda is a former Senior Fellow, IDSA, New Delhi, and former ICCR Chair Professor at Reitaku University, Japan.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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