Head of Myanmar’s Shadow Govt Says World Will Back Its Declaration of War Against Junta

By The Irrawaddy 7 September 2021

The acting president of Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) expressed confidence that the international community would back the NUG’s declaration of war on the country’s military regime, as it was a necessary step.

The NUG declared war on the regime on Tuesday, with acting President Duwa Lashila calling on citizens to “revolt against the rule of military terrorists led by [coup leader] Min Aung Hlaing in every corner of the country” while setting out dos and don’ts for everyone concerned.

“I believe that our neighboring countries, ASEAN countries, the United Nations and all other countries in the world understand that we do it out of necessity based on the country’s current situation,” he said in a speech to the country.

The announcement came one week before the opening of this year’s session of the UN General Assembly in New York, and several days after regional bloc ASEAN’s special envoy called for a four-month ceasefire to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid in the country.

Formed in April largely by elected lawmakers from the ousted National League for Democracy government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and their ethnic allies, the parallel government has enjoyed popular support at home and abroad. Many Myanmar people see it as their legitimate government, while the regime has branded it a terrorist organization.

The NUG’s Tuesday call for armed struggle nationwide will go down in history as Myanmar’s “Second Resistance Day”; the first marks the start of the country’s armed resistance to Japanese fascists in 1945. This time the people of Myanmar are being called to revolt against the generals who have been oppressing and killing their own citizens—the very people whom they are supposed to protect.

Much of Myanmar has already been in revolt since the military coup in February. The regime’s deadly crackdowns on its protesters forced many young people to take up arms. The shadow government’s declaration of war on Tuesday could accelerate the ongoing armed struggle against the junta to another level, with fighting expected to intensify across the country.

In his speech to the country on Tuesday, the acting president urged members of the civilian armed groups known as People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) to “target to control the military junta and its assets in their respective areas.”

The call to arms could make things significantly more difficult for the regime’s forces, who until now have mainly been faced with resistance from the country’s ethnic armed groups, mostly in far-flung areas. Now their battlefields will be in both urban and rural areas, as the PDFs, who have received weapons training from ethnic armed groups, are scattered across the country. The regime’s soldiers were already detested by the people for their brutality against civilians, and will now be extremely vulnerable to all kinds of deadly attacks by civilians as soon as they step outside the gates of their regiments.

Acting President Duwa Lashila also instructed PDF members to carefully protect the lives and properties of the people while strictly following orders, as well as rules of engagement, in contrast to regime soldiers, who have rampaged through civilian areas and committed crimes like arbitrary killings and arrests during their raids.

In addition to instructing the PDF members, the acting president issued general instructions covering the safety of the people.

“All citizens should avoid unnecessary travel and mind your personal safety. Save necessary supplies and medications. Assist the PDFs and their allies,” he said.

Mindful of the importance of collaborating with the country’s ethnic armed organizations—Kachin and Karen groups have been attacking regime troops in solidarity with the anti-regime movement—Duwa Lashila, who is himself an ethnic Kachin, called on all ethnic armed organizations to immediately launch attacks on the regime’s troops by any means, while maintaining full control in their areas. He also called on ethnic armed forces that are allied with the regime, like the Border Guard Forces and people’s militias, to join with the people and attack the people’s enemy.

“This revolution is a just revolution, a necessary revolution for building a peaceful country and a federal Union,” he said.

In his speech, the acting president also urged all civil servants working for the regime not to go to their offices, and called on all soldiers and police to join the PDFs immediately and report to the NUG.

He did not forget to address one group that has been among the PDFs’ most common targets—the various levels of regime-appointed local administrators. In his speech he urged that “all the military-appointed administrators at different levels of administration immediately leave your positions.”

Since the regime began cracking down on protesters, the administrators and their offices at the village and ward level—the primary elements of the government administrative system in Myanmar—have been killed, torched and bombed. So far, several dozen local officials at least have been killed and the attacks continue.

The acting president also said the NUG would recognize all those who sacrifice their lives and possessions in this revolution as national heroes and heroines.

“Based on the people’s unity, creativity, intelligence, passion and persistence, the revolution period will [be] shorter,” he said.

Following the NUG’s call for war on Tuesday, some PDF groups, student organizations and ethnic armed groups supported the announcement, while clashes between regime troops and ethnic armed groups as well as resistance groups were reported here and there across the country.

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