ISTANBUL – Strongly condemning the airstrikes on civilians by the military junta, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Thursday demanded an immediate end to “all forms of violence” in Myanmar.

The regional multi-national bloc said: “All forms of violence must end immediately, particularly the use of force against civilians." Indonesia is the current chair of the 10-member bloc.

Dozens of people were killed in the latest junta airstrikes in Myanmar on Tuesday, the unity government in exile claimed.

“About 100 people of Kanbalu in Sagaing, including children and women, were killed by Myanmar military junta’s airstrikes,” the Labor Ministry of the National Unity Government (NUG) said on Twitter.

The airstrikes by junta jets which targeted the inauguration ceremony of a People’s Administration Team office in the village of Pa Zi Gyi caused condemnation and criticism by the UN, US, and Switzerland, among others.

A statement by ASEAN said ending the violence “would be the only way to create a conducive environment for an inclusive national dialogue to find a sustainable peaceful solution in Myanmar.”

“We reiterate ASEAN’s commitment to continue assisting Myanmar in seeking a workable and durable solution to the ongoing crisis through promoting the full implementation of the Five-Point Consensus,” the statement added.

Interestingly, Myanmar's Permanent Representative to the ASEAN Aung Myo Myint met with the bloc's Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn on Thursday in Jakarta.

Aung and Kao discussed and exchanged views on the "implementation of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus and the recent developments in Myanmar," the bloc said on Twitter, without providing further details.

Extending support to the ASEAN statement, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said: "Any attack on civilians is reprehensible and cannot be condoned."

"Singapore is gravely concerned by these attacks. We reiterate our commitment to work with Indonesia, other ASEAN Member States, and our external partners to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Myanmar, in line with the Five-Point Consensus," Balakrishnan tweeted.

The People’s Administration Team office operates under the NUG which the country’s military junta has designated a terrorist organization.

Myanmar turmoil and 5-Point Consensus plan

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi's government over two years ago.

The NUG was formed after the Burmese military, locally known as Tatmadaw, ousted the government led by the National League for Democracy (NLD) in February 2021.

The Myanmar junta also disbanded the NLD after it said the deadline for political parties to re-register under a new electoral law expired. The NLD and 40 others parties on Tuesday failed to comply with the new law.

ASEAN is a political and economic union of 10 member states, including Myanmar, in Southeast Asia. It promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, and sociocultural integration among its members in Asia-Pacific.

Soon after the February 2021 coup launched by Myanmar's military, ASEAN issued the Five-Point Consensus plan, also called the 5PCs, when Brunei was at the helm of the regional grouping.

The military takeover triggered mass protests in Myanmar, with the junta's forces killing more than 1,500 people in a crackdown on dissent, according to the local monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

While the protests have recently decreased, ASEAN's 5PCs called on all parties in Buddhist-majority Myanmar to cease violence in the country and "exercise utmost restraint."

Urging a "constructive dialogue among all parties," the regional bloc said that doing so would involve seeking "a peaceful solution in the interests of the people."

It also appointed a special envoy of the ASEAN chair to facilitate mediation of the dialogue process. The envoy would be assisted by the bloc's secretary-general.

Under the 5PCs, ASEAN also provides humanitarian assistance, through its Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management, to Myanmar, while the special envoy was assigned to undertake visits to Myanmar to "meet with all parties concerned."

ASEAN has held several summits and meetings since the latest military coup in Myanmar but has stopped inviting junta representatives. (Antara)