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Philippines 'dissociates' from UN rights council call on Myanmar to free Aung San Suu Kyi

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Philippines 'dissociates' from UN rights council call on Myanmar to free Aung San Suu Kyi
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. (left) briefs the Senate foreign affairs committee about his policy on Myanmar after its military staged a coup and detained de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi (right).
YouTube screengrab / Senate of the Philippines | AFP / Lillian Suwanrumpha

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:54 p.m.) — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Saturday said the Philippines "dissociates" from a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution which demands that Myanmar release Aung San Suu Ky and other democratic leaders.

Reports from Al Jazeera and Reuters said Russia and China “disassociated” with the resolution, not “dissociated” as used by Locsin and the foreign affairs department.

Locsin made the announcement on Twitter, adding that the country joins China, Russia, Venezuela and Bolivia in disassociating itself from the resolution which was adopted by the 47-member Geneva forum without taking a vote.

The top diplomat also said the Philippines issued a "strong statement" on the matter which was "delivered by record message."

"As a sovereign country in a world of sovereign states, the Philippines cannot stress strongly enough the primacy of national internal efforts towards democratic reforms," the statement, posted on the Department of Foreign Affairs website, read.

However, it adds that democratic reform must never be achieved through "the imposition of foreign solutions whether in regional or multilateral contexts, including through this Council."

"We reaffirm our support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar."

DFA in a message to reporters clarified that dissociation "does not mean a vote against a resolution." Instead, it "means the thinking is not exactly the same as those who joined the consensus," DFA Executive Director for Strategic Communications Ivy Banzon-Abalos said.

It was first reported that Myanmar's military staged a coup on Feb. 1, 2021, detaining de facto leader Suu Kyi, and seizing control of the country which it placed under a state of emergency for a year. 

The day after, as other nations rushed to condemn the coup, Malacañang described it as an "internal matter that we will not meddle with," and Locsin called it more of a "chess move" than a coup. Locsin now maintains that Suu Kyi's detention angers him. 

The top diplomat has since progressed to calling for the "complete restoration of the status quo in which Myanmar," which was reiterated in the country's statement to the UN rights council.

"The Lady is a deeply and widely admired icon of democracy among the Filipino people who identify with her and her people, given similar struggles against tyranny in the not distant past," the statement further read.

It notes that these struggles "culminated in the complete restoration of democracy by unprecedented and entirely domestic efforts that inspired similarly successful efforts in the rest of the Cold War world."

Did the west 'destroy' Aung San Suu Kyi? 

"It's about old pots calling new kettles black. The nerve," Locsin further wrote on Twitter, referring to the UN rights council's resolution. 

In a high-volume rant delivered to senators during a foreign affairs panel hearing last week, Locsin blamed the west or the "white man" for "tearing down" Suu Kyi and leaving her vulnerable to the military. 

He was referring to the widespread criticism of the human rights and democracy icon for her handling of the Rohingya crisis, which saw the military perpetrate atrocities against the minority Muslim population in the predominantly-Buddhist Myanmar.

She was first criticized for her silence on the issue but in 2019 she came to the military's defense in a 30-minute speech delivered at the International Court of Justice. A BBC report published this month recalls that she called Myanmar's generals "rather sweet" in the speech. 

A report from The Guardian published in 2018 notes that many of the Rohingya people "had long placed their faith in Aung San Suu Kyi as the leader who would at last treat them as rightful citizens," adding that they were among those who had been demonstrating for her since the 1990s, when the country was still under military rule.

Myanmar is accused of genocide at the ICJ while the International Criminal Court is investigating the nation for crimes against humanity. 

Despite this, Suu Kyi, continues to enjoy widespread popularity in Myanmar where there is little sympathy for the Muslim minority. She and her party won by a landslide in elections held last November which the military called fraudulent without presenting definitive proof.  

Several western countries, including the US, have called on Myanmar to release its democratically-elected leaders but Locsin on Saturday doubled down on his refusal to align with them on the matter.

— with reports from Agence France-Presse 

DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

MYANMAR

UNITED NATIONS

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