Head of Myanmar’s Shadow Govt Vows to Continue ‘Second Struggle for Independence’

By The Irrawaddy 5 January 2022

The acting president of Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), Duwa Lashi La, has called the ongoing people’s defensive war against the junta, which the shadow government launched nearly four months ago, a “second struggle for independence”.

In his speech on the occasion of Myanmar’s 74th annual Independence Day commemoration on Tuesday, the acting president said that although the country is now free from colonial rule, its people continue to suffer harsh violence and repression at the hands of military dictatorships, pointing out that the military has staged coups four times over the period.

“As long as the owners of the sovereignty of the country lose their rights, we cannot say the country has achieved its independence,” he said.

Since seizing power, the junta has violently put down opposition to its coup, killing at least 1,435 people, torturing to death more than 100 detainees and arresting more than 11,300 people.

Duwa Lashi La said that in the face of the bloody attempted coup and the military’s continuing brutality against civilians, the people had no choice but to launch a defensive war to completely remove the military dictatorship.

Since the launch of the defensive war on Sept. 7, civilian resistance groups’ attacks on junta targets have become increasingly frequent and inflicted heavy losses on the junta’s forces. Meanwhile, the junta has also escalated its atrocities, including massacring civilians, using detained civilians as human shields, shelling and bombing residential areas, and looting and burning houses.

Fighting between the Myanmar military and the country’s ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) has also intensified, as some have joined hands with the people’s revolution.

“The most important thing at the moment is, based on the objectives of ending the military dictatorship and building a federal democratic union, all political forces including the EAOs should build unity and get involved in the people’s revolution,” the acting president said.

He dismissed coup leader and junta boss Min Aung Hlaing’s call for EAOs to mark the new year by engaging in a peace dialogue as an attempt to stall for time and find a political exit strategy from the crisis, as well as to deceive the international community and confuse the resistance forces.

“The attempted coup has trampled hopes of peace. They have destroyed the peace and future of the country,” Duwa Lashi La said.

The NUG’s declaration of war on the regime prompted calls for dialogue from the international community but most Myanmar people, having endured the regime’s atrocities, heartily embraced the announcement. The UN’s then special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, was among those who attempted to persuade the coup leaders in Naypyitaw to engage in dialogue to settle the ongoing political and social turmoil caused by the coup. Before the end of her term, however, she acknowledged that her months-long attempts had failed and borne no fruit, saying the clear lack of will on the part of the regime for a peaceful solution could have led other stakeholders to feel they had no choice but to seek a solution through violent means. The second item in ASEAN’s five-point consensus on Myanmar also called for dialogue between the junta and representatives of the Myanmar people. Agreed in late April, the consensus appears no closer to implementation.

The acting president added that in fact, the war criminals, who are stained with the people’s blood, are not fit for political dialogue, but should be sent to face domestic and international criminal courts.

The NUG has been documenting evidence of serious human rights abuses and crimes against civilians by junta forces to file with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to find justice for the victims.

The acting president said the revolution, for which many lives have been sacrificed in the last 11 months, will see new developments in 2022, and said he had no doubt that the people would achieve victory.

“I would like to urge [all people] to work together until we free ourselves from military slavery and bring back freedom, equality and justice for the people,” he added.

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