By Erric Permana and Pizaro Gozali Idrus
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AA) – Two members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Tuesday called on the military junta of Myanmar to free all political prisoners and stop the violent crackdown on anti-coup protesters.
A special meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers led by Brunei Darussalam was held virtually to address the current political situation in Myanmar following the coup on Feb. 1 and to find an amicable solution to the ensuing crisis.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said at a news conference in the capital Jakarta that she and her Malaysian counterpart in the meeting called on the junta to release the prisoners and create a conducive environment for dialogue between the stakeholders.
“Indonesia believes that ASEAN is ready to facilitate such a dialogue if asked,” she said.
During the meeting, Marsudi also expressed concern about the escalation of violence that killed civilians.
"It is worrying that civilian arrests are still taking place," she said, urging the security forces in the coup-hit country to exercise restraint and refrain from using violence.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein called for the prompt and unconditional release of detained political leaders in Myanmar, including ousted State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint and other prisoners and their associates, and encouraged dialogue between the parties concerned.
“We urge all relevant parties to continue exercising restraint from the use of violence against unarmed civilians. We are deeply concerned over the loss of innocent lives and injuries during the ongoing situation in Myanmar,” said Hishammuddin in a separate statement released in his country’s capital Putrajaya.
It is unquestionable that Myanmar has a prerogative in its domestic political matters, however, the minister expressed his hope that military rulers will also take a constructive view of the concerns raised by the ASEAN member states.
“It is crucial for Myanmar to strive for a solution to the political crisis in a way that upholds the will and aspiration of the people of Myanmar,” he added.
– Rohingya issue
Hishammuddin also expressed his hope that the current situation in Myanmar will have no adverse impact on the repatriation of displaced Rohingya people returning to Myanmar.
He noted that Malaysia has been directly affected by the Rohingya refugee crisis due to the continuing problem of irregular migration to the country.
“We will continue to support efforts towards a safe, voluntary, and dignified return of the displaced Rohingya to the Rakhine State. We welcome Myanmar’s continued commitment on this matter,” he added.
*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo with Anadolu Agency's Indonesian language services in Jakarta