Myanmar Women’s Human Rights Defenders’ Open Letter to the Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (IAMM) 2 March 2021


To: Current Chair of ASEAN, Brunei Darussalam and ASEAN Member States (AMS) 

We, the women’s human rights defenders of Myanmar recognize that the Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting is scheduled to take place on 2 March 2021.

At this critical meeting to deliberate the issues concerning regional peace, stability, and prosperity, we draw your attention to the situation in Myanmar.  Myanmar security force’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy protestors started a few days after 1 February 2021 when the democratically elected government was deposed by a military coup. As demonstrators gathered in large numbers to peacefully express their disapproval and dissent, the security forces have been responding increasingly aggressively.


On 28 February and 1 March, Myanmar security forces escalated their violent actions against protestors including use of tear gas, flashbangs, firearms, warning shots, live gunfire and other harsher police tactics were deployed against peaceful demonstrators.  The arrest of an increased number of protestors continues, accompanied by police raids without a search warrant. As of 1 March, 1213 civilians have been arrested, among them, based on the available sex disaggregated data from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, 285 are female and 802 are male. The sex disaggregation of the remaining 126 arrested persons are yet to be revealed.  Reports indicate that due to the security force’s concerted effort to violently disrupt large demonstrations and their indiscriminate shooting into the crowds, even inside homes, from the period of 1 February to 1 March, at least (23) civilian protestor fatalities have been recorded across the country, 3 females and 20 males, according to Voice of Myanmar.


Recognizing that ASEAN’s Theme for 2021 is “We Care, We Prepare, We prosper”, and acknowledging that non-interference in Myanmar is not an option as the lack of peace and stability in Myanmar will not only affect the country, but will affect its neighbour’s political security, economic prosperity and social stability, 

we firmly urge ASEAN to seriously consider the following: 


  1. In alignment with UN Human Rights Council’s stance and in accordance with the ASEAN Charter, values, and principles, we firmly urge ASEAN to reject the coup, increase pressure on the Myanmar’s military to stop the brutality, ensure the safety of those who oppose the military and to demand that people have the right to protest. 
  2. Women of Myanmar cannot and will not accept as legitimate the military-imposed SAC. We must stress that there is no provision in the Myanmar constitution that authorizes the SAC, and millions of people on the street have already proved that the SAC does not represent the people of Myanmar. Thus, ASEAN’s responsive action must be in line with the Myanmar’s peoples’ aspirations and their demands.
  3. The final point ASEAN made in its statement about Myanmar was for a “return to normalcy in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar.” In fact, the only legal representative of the will of the Myanmar people is the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (“CRPH”) established by the democratically elected MPs that have avoided arrest following the military coup.  Thus, we urge ASEAN to recognise CRPH as the legitimate body that represent the will of the people of Myanmar. 
  4. We urge ASEAN Member States to respect the result of the 2020 elections and listen to the will the people of Myanmarshown in the demonstrators’ active defiance to accept the illegitimate SAC. 
  5. We urge ASEAN to refuse to recognize the SAC junta as the legitimate government of Myanmar, and to refuse to endorse the legitimacy of SAC.
  6. We urge ASEAN to utilize targeted economic sanctions against Myanmar military, its business corporations and military-linked cronies. 


Myanmar Women Human Rights Defenders

  1. Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process (AGIPP)
  2. CEDAW Action Myanmar (CAM)
  3. Gender Equality Network (GEN)
  4. Women Organizations Network (WON)