Myanmar Junta Just Buying Time: NUG Foreign Minister

By The Irrawaddy 3 May 2021

Daw Zin Mar Aung, foreign minister of the National Unity Government (NUG) formed by elected lawmakers to rival the military junta, recently talked to The Irrawaddy about the role of Asean in Myanmar’s political crisis, possible negotiations between the regime and the NUG, international pressure on the junta and the NUG’s cooperation with ethnic armed organizations.

People have criticized the consensus reached at the Asean summit on Myanmar. What do you say as the NUG’s foreign minister?

I didn’t have high expectations for Asean’s intervention. We have sent back the NUG’s statement on the summit to Asean. Asean must design accountability mechanisms to handle when the Asean Charter and decisions reached at meetings are not followed.

Do Asean’s demands meet the situation in the country? Do you think the intervention will work and help find a solution?

As a regional organization, Asean aims to establish a people-centered society for regional stability and sustainability. In principle, those aims are not much different from the aspirations of Myanmar’s people. The problem for Asean is that it can’t handle dictators who do not care about the wishes of the people.

When Asean’s special envoy visits Myanmar, perhaps he will be allowed to meet State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. So do you think such a meeting will help find a solution?

Away from the meeting, the military council apparently opposes the consensus reached at the Asean summit and is buying time and reducing external pressure.

Is the NUG open to talks with the military council? Do you think that would work?

There must be certain preconditions if we are to consider negotiations. Talks should be the last resort. To hold negotiations, the situation must be fit for talks. But we are not against negotiations.

What the military council is doing [to the people] is preventing negotiations.

What action is the NUG taking to bring pressure from the international community, including the United Nations, on the military council?

We are using every possible means. We are working with foreign governments, expats from Myanmar, the leaders of the civil disobedience movement, regional organizations and the United Nations.

What actions is the NUG taking to win the support of the international community?

We have won the support of most democracies and some Asean countries are holding talks with the NUG regularly.

There have been fewer street protests and more guerrilla-style protests due to violent crackdowns by the junta forces. What is your assessment of the domestic situation?

Staging guerrilla protests is a very insightful response. People are using different forms of defiance against the military regime. Everyone is determined to go to the end as this fight must be won. Everyone is single-minded to root out the dictatorship.

How many of the ethnic armed organizations are cooperating with the NUG? Some powerful armed groups are not interested in cooperating. Why?

Cooperation with most of them comes only after we have reached an agreement that federalism will be exercised. We will build trust while working together. And some seemingly want to wait and see before deciding to cooperate. But, in principle, we don’t have differences regarding federalism.

There have been calls for legal action against Senior General Min Aung Hlaing through the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice. What actions are being taken?

We have consulted with international lawyers to file lawsuits against the military regime. The legal firm Volterra Fietta is officially acting for us and coordinates with the NUG.

You may also like these stories:

China Donates 500,000 COVID-19 Vaccines to Myanmar Junta

Mother, 64, Beaten and Seized by Myanmar Junta Forces

Myanmar Junta Arrests HIV/AIDS Patients in Yangon