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Vivian Balakrishnan calls on Myanmar to stop using lethal force, immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi and other detainees

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has called on the military government in Myanmar to exercise restraint and stop the use of lethal force against its citizens, after a bloody post-coup crackdown left 18 people dead on Sunday (Feb 28).

Vivian Balakrishnan calls on Myanmar to stop using lethal force, immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi and other detainees

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan called on the military government in Myanmar to exercise restraint and stop the use of lethal force against its citizens, after a bloody post-coup crackdown left 18 people dead on Feb 28, 2021.

  • Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan urged all parties in Myanmar to work towards long-term peaceful political solutions
  • He also called on the military government to immediately release Myanmar’s civilian leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint
  • He said that prolonged instability in Myanmar would have serious consequences for the country and its neighbours

 

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has called on the military government in Myanmar to exercise restraint and stop the use of lethal force against its citizens, after a bloody post-coup crackdown left 18 people dead on Sunday (Feb 28).

He also urged all parties to find “long-term peaceful political solutions” — a process that he believes can begin only with the immediate release of its civilian leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint. 

Speaking during the debate on his ministry’s budget on Monday, Dr Balakrishnan said in Parliament: “We, therefore, call on all parties in Myanmar to engage in discussions and to negotiate in good faith, to pursue long-term peaceful political solutions for them to achieve national reconciliation, including a path to find a way to get back to the path of democratic transition.

“And we believe this can only begin if President Win Myint, State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, and other political detainees are immediately released.”

Dr Balakrishnan’s latest remarks came about two weeks after he expressed hope for the release of Ms Suu Kyi and Mr Win Myint, so that “they can engage in discussions and negotiations in good faith”. 

Speaking in Parliament on Feb 16, he had then called the developments in Myanmar “alarming” and urged the authorities to exercise utmost restraint, to avoid further injuries and loss of lives.

Separately, Singapore’s Foreign Ministry also said last month that the use of lethal weapons in Myanmar against unarmed civilians was “inexcusable” and that it was dismayed by reports of civilian casualties in an earlier round of violence that left two people dead in the city of Mandalay.

Myanmar has been locked in turmoil for the past month after the military junta staged a coup on Feb 1 and deposed Ms Suu Kyi, Mr Win Myint and arrested several of her party leaders.  

Weeks of nationwide demonstrations against the coup, which halted Myanmar’s democratic transition after almost 50 years of military rule, escalated on Sunday in the bloodiest crackdown since the coup. Police fired at protesters around the country, leaving at least 18 people dead. 

On Monday, Dr Balakrishnan said: “We are appalled by the use of lethal force against civilians. We express our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and we hope that the injured will recover quickly.”

He also said that the immediate priority was for security forces in Myanmar to stop all acts of violence and the use of lethal force, and step back from a rapidly deteriorating situation. 

“We call on the Myanmar military authorities to exercise utmost restraint, desist from the use of lethal force, and take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation to prevent further violence, bloodshed and deaths,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

He said that he would communicate Singapore’s sentiments on the matter directly to the military leaders in Myanmar, in response to a question from Mr Gerald Giam, Member of Parliament for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency.

Dr Balakrishnan added that prolonged instability in Myanmar would have serious consequences for the country and its neighbours, which are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). 

Despite Asean’s core principles of non-interference and consensus, Dr Balakrishnan said that the grouping can still play a constructive role in helping Myanmar return to normalcy and stability.

“We must ensure that the mutually beneficial relations that Asean and our partners have built do not become paralysed by this issue. If we can hold together and maintain Asean centrality, the longer-term prospects for our region are still robust,” he said. 

Apart from Myanmar and Singapore, the other Asean member-states are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Ms Suu Kyi, a pro-democracy icon, came to power after the 2015 general election. 

She was elected again in a general election in November last year, but the military claimed the results were fraudulent. 

Between 1989 and 2010, the military junta placed her under house arrest for nearly 15 years before she was released, marking the beginning of the country’s transition to democracy and gradual liberalisation. 

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Myanmar military coup Aung San Suu Kyi Vivian Balakrishnan

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