The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit was held this past weekend in Sydney, Australia hosted by prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. There were no political breakthroughs in the character of ASEAN which is a trade & military alliance between ten repressive regimes in Southeast Asia, including Burma, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore. Other countries are involved with ASEAN (China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, New Zealand, Russia, & the US) just in case repression, death squads, occupation, & genocide need additional reinforcements. But of course most of those countries are already involved by supplying arms & military equipment (as in Burma against the Rohingya people), by refusing to impose sanctions or denounce the crimes against humanity & by providing justification for those crimes.
The issues of the Rohingya genocide in Burma, vigilante death squads in the Philippines, military repression in Thailand, & political repression in Vietnam & other nations never came up because the primary concern was thwarting the growth of terrorism in Southeast Asia. It’s reported that Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak took a diplomatic jab at the Burmese junta by saying the “suffering” of the Rohingya people “posed a threat to regional security because they could be more easily recruited by Islamist extremists.” Are we supposed to applaud this detestable evasion of the issue of genocide; the attempt to portray political resistance to the persecution & genocide of Muslims as terrorism; the attempt to portray the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) as Islamist terrorists rather than freedom fighters?
In a deplorable expression of white supremacy, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a briefing paper titled “Human Rights in Southeast Asia” on the condition of human rights in eight of the ten ASEAN member nations & called on the Australian government to intervene at the summit on behalf of human rights. HRW is not unaware of the unspeakable human rights crimes of the Australian government against immigrants, refugees, & its indigenous peoples. Why would they posit the delusion that Australia could or would play a progressive role in addressing human rights criminality in Burma or elsewhere against considerable evidence to the contrary?
The most consequential thing about the ASEAN summit were the protests by thousands of Rohingya, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, & Thai refugees denouncing human rights crimes in their native countries & demanding action from the Australian government instead of complicity with repression & genocide. The Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen actually threatened refugees who protested saying “If you dare to make an effigy of me & burn it, I will pursue you & beat you in your homes.” Consider his arrogance in threatening refugees living in another country. That did not stop them from burning his effigy.
Photos are from protests at ASEAN summit.