FOCUS: Side with citizens, not military, Burma expat tells Japan, Asean

02-Mar-2021 Intellasia | KyodoNews | 5:02 AM Print This Post

With the turmoil in Myanmar showing no signs of abating a month after the coup, some Myanmar people living in Japan are urging their host country to suspend aid to the Southeast Asian nation as part of international pressure on the military to restore the democratically elected government.

In a bid to block arms supply to the Myanmar military from major providers China and Russia as violent crackdowns on anti-coup demonstrators continue, the expats are calling on Japan to lobby other UN members so the Security Council urgently imposes a global arms embargo on the junta led by Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief who ended Myanmar’s decade-long democratic reform.

“We would like Japan to halt development assistance to the junta and press China to stop supplying weapons to the military. We hope such measures, together with US sanctions, will compel the generals to reverse course,” said Lae Lae Lwin, a Myanmar nurse working in Japan.

“We know Japan has developed ties with both Aung San Suu Kyi and the Tatmadaw,” she said, referring to the ousted civilian leader and the armed forces. “But at this juncture, we want Japan to side with us, the people of Myanmar, not the Tatmadaw.”

Min Aung Hlaing seized power after detaining Suu Kyi and other senior members of her party, the National League for Democracy, alleging fraud in November’s election that gave the NLD a landslide victory. The election commission, however, said the vote was fair.

“The coup has not only shattered my dream to introduce Japan’s advanced health care and nursing systems to Myanmar, but more importantly deprived people in Myanmar of hard-won freedom and democracy,” Lae Lae Lwin, one of about 32,000 Myanmar residents in Japan, said in an interview in Tokyo.

She made the remarks when Myanmar security forces killed at least 18 protesters and injured over 30 others around the country on Sunday in the bloodiest day since the February 1 coup, according to the UN Human Rights Office.

Also on Sunday, some 2,500 Myanmar residents and others held a demonstration in front of the United Nations University in Tokyo, demanding that the junta immediately release Suu Kyi and relinquish power and calling for help from the world body and Japan.

The calls for Japanese action came as prime minister Yoshihide Suga’s government is considering halting new official development assistance projects in Myanmar in response to the coup and the rising death toll from the use of force, including shootings, by the Myanmar security apparatus against peaceful protests.

In addition to limited sanctions imposed by the United States, Britain and Canada on Myanmar generals and military-linked businesses, the Japanese plan, if enforced, would deal a significant blow to the junta because Tokyo is by far the largest aid donor to Myanmar among developed countries.

Citing the political uncertainty and an expected drop in foreign direct investment, Sian Fenner, lead Asia economist for Oxford Economics, has forecast the military takeover is likely to cut Myanmar’s economic growth this year to around 2 percent from an earlier estimate of 4.1 percent.

Meanwhile, Japan has no plans to suspend humanitarian aiddelivered to civil groups in Myanmar via international institutions and nongovernmental organisationsas well as ongoing official development assistance projects, while officials continue to engage with the Tatmadaw so as to eventually persuade the generals to change their mind.


Category: Japan

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