"UNITED NATIONS, Sept 27 (Reuters) - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations voiced "revulsion" on Thursday at the killings in Yangon and sternly demanded that fellow member Myanmar stop using violence against demonstrators.
In unusually blunt language for the group, the nine other foreign ministers said they were "appalled to receive reports of automatic weapons being used" on crowds and demanded the Myanmar government "immediately desist from the use of violence against demonstrators."
Nine protesters were killed in Myanmar's main city, Yangon, on Thursday when soldiers and police fired on crowds protesting decades of army rule and economic hardship, state media said. They were the country's biggest pro-democracy demonstrations in two decades, led by Buddhist monks.
The ministers "expressed their revulsion to Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win over reports that the demonstrations in Myanmar are being suppressed by violent force and that there has been a number of fatalities," said the statement, issued after talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
The statement also urged Myanmar to release political detainees including democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi."
"KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) — Southeast Asian nations have long been reluctant to confront their reviled neighbour Myanmar, but as protests mount in Yangon, observers say they risk losing credibility if they fail to act.
In the 10 years since it joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Myanmar has proved a major headache for the budding democracies of the region, who have been admonished by the west for failing to press for reforms.
"By any normal global international standards, ASEAN hasn't done much. I suspect many of the policymakers in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore or Jakarta or Manila will admit to that," said Hiro Katsumata from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
"But this is not surprising because ASEAN needs Myanmar more than Myanmar needs ASEAN," he said, adding that the region feared the resource-rich nation could turn its back on the grouping in favour of closer ties with China."
After years of saying that change in Myanmar must come from within, Southeast Asia is being warned that now that just such a scenario has presented itself, the region cannot stand idle.
"Certainly ASEAN will not look good," said Katsumata.
"Human rights and democracy are becoming important parts of global norms, so the slower the ASEAN approach is, the worse ASEAN will appear in the eyes of the international audience."
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