SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday (March 1) called on the Myanmar army to stop the use of deadly force on civilians and the immediate release of State Adviser Aung San Suu Kyi and other political detainees.
At least 18 people were killed Sunday, the United Nations Human Rights Office said as authorities in Myanmar staged protests against the military coup.
Speaking during the Foreign Ministry (MFA)’s delivery committee’s debate, Dr Balakrishnan said recent developments in Myanmar are of “serious concern” for Singapore and the larger family of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“The immediate priority is to stop all acts of violence and the use of deadly force, and to step back from a rapidly deteriorating situation,” Dr Balakrishnan said.
He marked a “significant escalation in violence” on Sunday in cities in Myanmar.
“Security forces fired on civilians with live rounds, rubber bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas – causing many deaths and injuries,” the foreign minister said.
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“We are afraid of using deadly force against civilians,” said Dr Balakrishnan, adding his condolences to the families of those who died.
Singapore “strongly” reiterates that the use of lethal weapons against unarmed civilians “is in all circumstances excusable,” Dr Balakrishnan said.
“We call on the Myanmar military authorities to exercise extreme restraint, stop the use of deadly force, and take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation to prevent further bloodshed, violence and death,” he added. ta.
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Longer instability in Myanmar would have “serious consequences” for the country, ASEAN, and across the region, he said.
He called on all parties in Myanmar to engage in discussions and “negotiate in good faith”, and to strive for long-term peaceful political solutions for them to achieve “national reconciliation”, including … finding a way to return to the path of democratic transition “.
“We believe this can only begin if President Win Myint, and State Adviser and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, and the other political detainees are released immediately,” Dr Balakrishnan said.
Despite ASEAN’s core principles of consensus and non-interference, it can still play a constructive role in facilitating a return to normality and stability in Myanmar, Dr Balakrishnan said.
“This was why Singapore strongly supported ASEAN’s efforts from the outset, including the statement made by the ASEAN President,” he said.
“We believe in engagement and dialogue in good faith with all relevant stakeholders.”
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A special ASEAN meeting of Foreign Ministers will be convened via video conference on Tuesday to listen to a representative of the Myanmar military authorities.
“We are afraid of the violence and we will say that tomorrow,” Dr Balakrishnan said in an interview on Mediacorp Channel 5’s News Tonight.
ASEAN’s foreign ministers are “seriously concerned” about the situation in Myanmar, he said, adding that the bloc will be “frank” about its position during Tuesday’s teleconference.
Dr Balakrishnan said ASEAN’s Foreign Minister would remind the army that the coup would eventually cause “serious damage” to Myanmar’s society and economy.
“Instability in every corner of Southeast Asia threatens and affects the rest of us. It’s such a pity, because the prospects for Myanmar were actually clear, the prospects for Southeast Asia are robust in the next 20, 30 years, “he said during the interview.
“We must seize this opportunity and not let this political struggle in Myanmar, with all its perplexing violence and negative consequences for its people, distract us and disturb us from the future that we all await in Southeast Asia.”
In Parliament earlier, Dr Balakrishnan said that ASEAN will work closely with its external partners to promote an inclusive dialogue with key stakeholders.
“We must ensure that the mutually beneficial relationships that ASEAN and our partners have built are not paralyzed by this problem,” he said.