Top US diplomat for East Asia urges foreign ministers of ASEAN bloc to "apply pressure" on the military regime, warning Washington is "not going to sit idly."

Before last year's coup, the military launched a brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in 2017, forcing hundreds of thousands to escape to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Before last year's coup, the military launched a brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in 2017, forcing hundreds of thousands to escape to neighbouring Bangladesh. (Reuters Archive)

The United States has urged strong action on Myanmar as Southeast Asian ministers prepared to meet on how to deal with the military-run country ahead of an upcoming summit.

Daniel Kritenbrink, the top US diplomat for East Asia, said on Wednesday the junta that seized power in February 2021 was leading "the complete destruction of all the progress made over the last decade" as the nation transitioned to democracy.

"The brutality of the regime — wantonly killing, murdering civilians, bombing schools, executing activists, beheading teachers. I think what you'll see from the United States of America at the East Asia Summit is a very forceful call to do more to apply pressure to the regime," Kritenbrink said.

"I think we have some practical ideas in mind," he said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"We are not going to sit idly by while this violence continues; we're not going to sit idly by while the junta prepares for what will be completely fake and sham elections that they talk about holding next year," he said.

Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are holding emergency talks on Thursday in Jakarta on Myanmar in advance of the November 10-13 ASEAN and East Asia summits in Cambodia.

There has been little progress on an ASEAN five-point plan from April last year, which called for an end to violence, increased humanitarian aid, as well as dialogue between the military and the anti-coup movement.

Kritenbrink said that the United States has "great respect" for ASEAN but said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during talks in August, voiced "frustration" on the lack of forward movement on Myanmar.

Myanmar has been in crisis since the army ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government in February 2021, detaining her and other officials and launching a bloody crackdown on protests and other dissent.

READ MORE: UN envoy: Myanmar crisis deepening under military rule

Russian weapons in Myanmar?

Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur said that Russian weapons are being used in Myanmar to kill civilians, urging the international community to work together to sanction the junta.

"Some of the very types of weapons that are being used to kill people in Ukraine are being used to kill the people of Myanmar. And they come from the very same source — they come from Russia," Andrews told reporters in New York.

"The international community should be coordinating their efforts to target them, and then work together to implement these measures."

The UN Security Council has long been split on Myanmar, with diplomats saying China and Russia would likely shield the junta from strong action.

After Andrews briefed the UN General Assembly human rights committee earlier on Wednesday, Russia's Deputy UN Ambassador Gennady Kuzmin questioned his report, saying it was "often not corroborated by facts."

"It's not up to you to say whose weapons are killing civilians, elderly people, women, and children around the world.

You have been appointed the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, so deal with Myanmar instead of Ukraine," Kuzmin told the committee.

Britain last month proposed a draft UN Security Council resolution to the 15-member body that would demand an end to all violence in Myanmar, threaten UN sanctions and call on the junta to release all political prisoners, including Suu Kyi.

To pass, a resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by China, Russia, the United States, France or Britain.

READ MORE: Myanmar junta jails Suu Kyi for 6 more years for graft

Source: TRTWorld and agencies