Locsin on Myanmar coup: 'The West destroyed Suu Kyi’

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr on Thursday, February 4, dismissed the idea of working with Western countries to address the military takeover of Myanmar’s government. 

At the Senate committee on foreign relations’ hearing, Locsin also slammed the West for “tearing down” the reputation of Myanmar civil leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who the military had detained in early morning raids last February 1. Along with Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s military detained other key officials of her popular National League for democracy as it moved to seize power from the country’s democratically elected government. 

“I pour scorn on the Western world for destroying Aung San Suu Kyi and making her a victim of the military,” Locsin said, launching into a tirade that touched on “Western criticism” of Suu Kyi for her silence on the plight of Rohingya Muslims, the West’s contentious role in the Middle East affairs, and the effects of colonialism in present day Myanmar. 

Locsin had praised Suu Kyi for her role in steering Myanmar toward democracy, while he blamed Western institutions for weakening her position with the military in the Southeast Asian country. 

“She had only the adoration of the world to stand up with against the army…. Every step she made in the freedom of Burma, they erased – all so they could feel well tearing her down,” he said. 

Locsin continued: “Now the army saw this woman has nothing. She has no name, she has no reputation, it’s time to get her out of the way. And that’s what happened.” 

The Philippines’ foreign affairs stated his position as the Senate committee took up Senator Leila de Lima’s resolution on the Philippines’ positions towards resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council which sought to address the Rohingya crisis. The discussion had veered into the current situation unfolding in Myanmar and the Philippines’ view on the matter. 

“They tore her to pieces and so where is she now? And where is Burmese democracy? Ten steps forward – just for the liberals in the United States to feel good tearing down a woman, they have gone 20 steps back for Burmese democracy,” Locsin said. 

'Back to status quo'

The Philippines earlier said it viewed the Myanmar coup with “deep concern,” after initially stating it will not “interfere” with the military takeover in its neighboring country. While this was the case, Manila said it was “especially concerned” with the safety of Suu Kyi who continued to be held under charges such as illegally importing walkie-talkie radios

Locsin said the country’s policy now would be to work with other regional powers  to “maybe convince the powers that be, the status quo ante was working.” 

“That’s my feeling. That’s my policy: with Burma, we work with the powers around Burma to see if we can convince the great powers there. Forget the United States! We talk to China, we talk to India, we say, ‘Can we go back to the status quo? Can we go back and put the mother of Burmese democracy back there?’,” he said, adding the Department of Foreign Affairs  “will never, never listen to the West on this issue.” 

“The last thing we want is work with the countries in the West that destroyed Burmese democracy…. The last thing, the last people I will listen to is a white face on this issue,” Locsin said.

While Locsin expressed the intention to work with regional powers to address Myanmar, at least in Southeast Asia, countries were so far divided on the matter. 

While the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia expressed grave concern over the military takeover, Cambodia and Thailand branded it as an internal matter they would not comment on further. Other Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Laos, and Brunei have yet to issue formal statements on the issue. 

Western powers have so far condemned the Myanmar coup and called for its reversal, with the United Kingdom drafting a United Nations security council statement that would call on the Myanmar military to uphold the rule of law and respect human rights. 

But China and Russia blocked the statement, asking for more time, while India and Vietnam underscored the importance of considering regional efforts to address the developing situation in Myanmar. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

image