March 30, 2021, 01.54 PM
Founded in August 8, 1967, ASEAN member states embrace the principle of non-interference. shutterstock.comFounded in August 8, 1967, ASEAN member states embrace the principle of non-interference.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for an immediate end to the violence and announced that he would, together with Brunei, call a special meeting of ASEAN. Brunei is the current chair of the bloc.

"Dialogue and reconciliation must be carried out immediately to restore democracy, to restore peace, and to restore stability in Myanmar," Widodo said.

A first in ASEAN's history

"This is quite a strong statement, especially considering ASEAN's usual 'quiet' and noninterference approach," Deasy Simandjuntak, an expert from the ISEAS-Yusof-Ishak-Institute in Singapore, told Malaysian newspaper The Straits Times.

Since its founding in 1967, ASEAN has pursued behind closed doors and consensus-based diplomacy.

With this approach, ASEAN succeeded, for instance, in convincing Myanmar to accept international aid in 2008 after the devastating cyclone Nargis, which claimed about 100,000 lives.

It was also ASEAN that admitted Myanmar to the club in 1997, despite international pressure not to do so. Becoming a member of the bloc contributed to the subsequent opening of the country.

Public criticism of Myanmar and the call for a summit that is primarily about a domestic political crisis in a member state is a first for ASEAN. Myanmar's military generals will certainly not be amused by the criticism coming now from some of the bloc's member states, as Thailand's generals were let off scot-free after the 2014 coup.

Another factor that complicates a dialogue with the generals is that it has so far been ASEAN's Muslim-majority countries that condemned the coup and crackdown in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. And these countries have already been critical of Myanmar's policies toward the Rohingya community.

Also readIndonesian President Jokowi: ASEAN Must be Subject of Global Politics

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