On Saturday, leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) hold a rare face-to-face emergency summit in Jakarta to discuss the situation in Myanmar, which has plunged into its deepest political and economic crisis after the February coup.

In an attempt to legitimize the military junta’s control on the resource-rich country, its top general, Min Aung Hlaing, will attend the bloc’s summit to defend the military takeover and win support from its neighbors.

The world watched in horror as Myanmar’s state forces killed hundreds of protesters demanding the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and return power to the leaders overwhelmingly elected in November. The results were questioned by the junta, alleging fraud in the balloting.

Outside Myanmar’s capital and key cities, the military has been busy fighting internal wars along its borders with ethnic groups seeking to set up independent states. Using Russian helicopters and jet fighters, Myanmar bombed ethnic tribes near the Chinese and Thai borders.

On the opposite side, it grappled with a humanitarian crisis as hundreds of thousands of displaced Muslims — Rohingyas — fled to nearby countries, like Malaysia, Bangladesh and India.

Myanmar is fast becoming a failed state. Its troubles could drag down Asean’s reputation as it is losing its relevance in the face of growing authoritarianism in the region.

In 2014, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, the commander of the Thai Royal Army, seized power after a six-month political crisis. The military remained in power.

Cambodia has been under one leader, Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge soldier, from 1985, a virtual dictator. Laos and Vietnam are under one-party systems since the middle of the 1970s

Singapore has been under one family since its founding in 1965.

The Philippines was the beacon of democracy after the dictator was ousted by a popular uprising in 1986, and has started to slide to authoritarianism under Rodrigo Duterte.

Thousands have been killed in the government’s bloody and brutal war on drugs policy and an overzealous anti-communist drive to end Asia’s longest Maoist-led insurgency.

Asean has done nothing to reverse military takeovers in the region, sticking to its policy of non-intervention in domestic affairs and respecting the diversity in cultures, political and economic systems.

Asean was established in 1967 by five member-states — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand — to promote regional peace, collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest.

Asean’s founding was driven by the fear of the spread of communism in the region, but later, the bloc embraced three states with opposite ideological leanings — Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in the late 1990s. Brunei became a member in 1984.

Asean accepted Myanmar, ruled by the military for more than five decades in 1997, to constructively engage the generals and persuade them to take the path of democracy.

The late senator Blas Ople, who was the Philippines’ foreign secretary during the early days of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was the strongest voice in Asean to demand the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and for a peaceful democratization process in Myanmar.

Asean’s campaign partly paid off when the generals allowed democratic space, leading to the election of Suu Kyi’s party in parliament after 2010.

It was unfortunate Myanmar slid back to military dictatorship after the February coup, putting in prison once again Suu Kyi and leaders of the NLD party.

Asean’s response to the military junta crackdown on protest is disappointing. It could not condemn the atrocities committed on its own citizens. The Muslim countries in Asean also could not do anything to stop the killings of minority Muslims in Myanmar. Malaysia even deported those who fled to its borders.

The United States and its Western allies did more than just condemn the widespread rights abuses in Myanmar; they imposed debilitating sanctions on businesses linked to the generals, froze their assets and banned them traveling to the West. But the economic sanctions also hurt the population.

The Asean leaders’ summit in Jakarta is important as it will discuss the situation in Myanmar and how the crisis will be resolved with less bloodshed and violence.

It brings urgency to the situation that Asean leaders have agreed to meet face-to-face in Jakarta, the first time since the coronavirus outbreak last year.

The regional bloc will try to save Myanmar from further sliding into chaos, which will affect the whole region. But, more importantly, Asean will salvage its own reputation, its relevance as a regional grouping, and its own cohesion as one community.

Asean cannot abandon Myanmar alone but the generals must listen and accept its neighbors’ intervention. But, the generals must first put to a stop the carnage in the streets and in the hinterlands.

Peace and reconciliation will not be achieved by violence.

Myanmar’s junta must allow Asean states to send humanitarian teams to assist the affected population. They must end the violence, give back power to the elected leaders, and return hastily to the path of democracy.