APHR appeals to G7 for immediate action on Myanmar, Cambodia’s eroding democracies

APHR appeals to G7 for immediate action on Myanmar, Cambodia’s eroding democracies

An open letter to the G7 nations from the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) calls for “swift and firm measures” against the rising tide of human rights abuses and democratic backsliding in Myanmar and Cambodia.

The APHR, a network of legislators from Southeast Asia advocating for human rights and democracy, stated in their letter, “Since the coup d’etat led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in February 2021, the political and humanitarian situation in the country has continued to deteriorate and has reached alarming levels.”

The group painted a grim picture of the abuses happening in Myanmar, noting that the military has waged “an all-out war on its own people”, employing tactics including arbitrary arrests, routine use of torture, and extrajudicial killings.

The recent use of “thermobaric” munitions by the Myanmar military during airstrikes, resulting in the death of more than 160 civilians, was also highlighted as a clear violation of international human rights law.

The APHR implored the G7 to take action: “It is more crucial than ever to correct this failure and make sure that the junta faces consequences for its actions and put an end to their ability to bring further death and destruction upon the people of Myanmar.”

“We therefore urge the G7 to take swift and firm measures against the illegal military junta led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and provide real assistance to the pro-democracy forces in Myanmar. Those measures should include targeted economic sanctions against the military junta, a comprehensive arms embargo including on aviation fuel, and referral of the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or the establishment of an ad hoc tribunal.”

Moving on to Cambodia, the APHR expressed similar concerns. “Another worrying situation is the one in Cambodia, whose continuing descent into authoritarianism is of great concern and does not bode well for the region,” the letter stated.

They detailed the deterioration of democracy since 2017, when Prime Minister Hun Sen dissolved the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

The group also pointed out recent events, including threats against opposition supporters and the shutdown of independent media outlets, as cause for alarm.

The APHR argued that the upcoming elections in Cambodia under the present circumstances could not possibly be free or fair.

They urged the G7, “to pressure the Cambodian government to unconditionally release all political prisoners, halt the constant harassment and prosecution of political opponents, and allow for the will of the people to prevail through a free and fair electoral process.”

The letter concluded by emphasizing the responsibility of the G7 nations. “We urge you to take immediate and decisive action to change the course in both countries. Doing so will have a significant impact on neighboring countries in Southeast Asia and will pave the way for a more politically stable region where lasting peace becomes attainable and where economic development can take place with the people’s best interests at the center,”

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