Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) said it could no longer rely on the international community to support the country’s democracy movement or to protect the people of Myanmar from the brutality of the military junta.
In its first press statement since its declaration of war on the country’s regime last week, the NUG said the regime was not interested in a peaceful political settlement “but will continue to use violence in an attempt to gain power” eight months after the coup.
Immediately after the coup on Feb. 1, millions in Myanmar joined nonviolent resistance movements and peaceful protests but the military responded with violence, killing more than 1,000 unarmed protesters, and arresting more than 7,000 people. The regime’s killing spree, arbitrary arrests, looting and destruction of civilian properties continue across the country.
“The international community obviously cannot be relied upon to intercede on behalf of the democracy movement and secure the safety and well-being of the people of Myanmar from the frontal and brutal assault of the military junta,” it said.
For that reason, the shadow government said, “the last seven months have clearly shown that national solidarity and collective action will be the most effective way to end the coup, chaos, and instability caused by the military,” referring to people’s actions against the regime like the Civil Disobedient Movement (CDM) and guerrilla warfare organized by civilian resistance forces known as the People’s Defence Force (PDF). As a result, the regime still can’t run the country properly.
The NUG, formed by elected politicians and legislators who won seats in the 2020 general election as well as ethnic and civil society leaders, said in a statement released on Monday that as the legitimate government of Myanmar it has the solemn responsibility to protect the interests and security of the people and bring stability back to the country.
“With the failure of various political and diplomatic efforts to stop the military’s brutality in the past eight months, local communities are forced to form defense forces and to defend themselves from continuous military atrocities,” said the statement released on Monday, referring to the formation of PDFs.
The parallel government’s Foreign Minister Daw Zin Mar Aung told The Irrawaddy that the NUG’s call for war was an “alert to the existing revolutionary movement” as “the international pressure and sanctions [on the regime] have proved to be ineffective in the seven months since the coup.”
While the NUG’s declaration of war was heartily embraced by people at home, it has not impressed the international community. The UK and the US just said they supported peaceful efforts to restore democracy in Myanmar and called on all parties to engage in dialogue, meaning they didn’t support the shadow government’s call for a war to topple the junta. It seemed to make no difference at all to China, which just said that “all parties and factions in Myanmar should find a proper way to address problems through political dialogue under the constitutional and legal framework.”
Following the international response to their declaration of war on the regime, the NUG pledged in its statement that it is committed to ensuring that a unified chain of command is created amongst the People’s Defense Forces, and that the NUG’s Code of Conduct, which is in line with International Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws, is respected, along with the Geneva Conventions.
“The NUG has also accepted the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, meaning that all actors in Myanmar can now be held accountable for their actions under the Rome Statute,” it said.
For all its popularity at home and among Myanmar people overseas, as well as unofficial engagements with some democracies, the NUG so far hasn’t won diplomatic recognition from any foreign countries.
In its statement on Monday, it further called on the international community to recognize it as the legitimate government of Myanmar.
“As such, the NUG will listen to the demands of the people of Myanmar and respond to their need for protection from the military’s brutality,” it said.
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