Washington Urged to Maintain Support for Myanmar’s Shadow Government

By The Irrawaddy 28 January 2022

Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) urged the United States (US) to continue its support during a meeting with the US State Department Counselor Derek Chollet, who voiced deep appreciation for the NUG’s leadership in response to the crisis created by the Myanmar military’s coup one year ago.

The NUG called on the US Government to continue its “strong and effective support” in resolving the Myanmar crisis, wrote NUG foreign affairs minister Daw Zin Mar Aung, following Thursday’s virtual meeting between the NUG and the US.

The US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that Counselor Derek Chollet “reaffirmed the United States strong commitment to the people of Burma [Myanmar] and the swift restoration of the country’s path to democracy.”

“The Counselor voiced deep appreciation for the NUG’s leadership in response to the crisis created by the military coup d’état one year ago,” said Ned Price.

The NUG was formed in April by elected lawmakers of the National League for Democracy, their ethnic allies and anti-regime protesters. It has been lobbying for international recognition as Myanmar’s legitimate government and to de-legitimize the military regime. The NUG has earned popular support at home and abroad, and also provides support to striking civil servants and people displaced by fighting.

The people’s government, as the NUG is dubbed, formed People’s Defense Forces (PDF) to resist the regime. It declared war on the junta in September, taking the ongoing armed struggle against the Myanmar military to another level.

Although foreign governments do not yet officially recognize the NUG, many, including the US, have engaged with the NUG both formally and informally.

Since last February’s coup, the junta has failed to consolidate its power as most of the Myanmar people are rejecting military rule.

The pro-democracy movement has maintained its momentum, while anti-regime protesters continue to take to the streets. In addition, people are refusing to pay taxes, civil servants are joining the Civil Disobedience Movement, and young people especially are joining the armed resistance and conducting guerrilla attacks against junta troops in urban areas.

Meanwhile, the fighting rages on between the regime and the combined forces of ethnic armed groups and PDFs in rural ethnic areas and Bamar-majority areas such as Sagaing and Magwe regions.

Due to ongoing junta air and artillery strikes, in mid-January more than 385,000 people were internally displaced in Sagaing, Magwe, Bago and Tanintharyi regions and in Chin, Karen, Kayah, Shan and Mon states, according to the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price added that the US representative discussed “efforts to achieve a more inclusive democratic future for Myanmar”.

The US-NUG meeting was joined by the NUG’s Acting President Duwa Lashi La, the Union Prime Minister Mahn Win Khaing Than, Daw Zin Mar Aung, US Counselor Derek Chollet and Kin W. Moy, the principal deputy assistant secretary for the US’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Daw Zin Mar Aung added that the Counselor reiterated that the US has been working with its allies to help Myanmar’s situation more effectively. The NUG also highlighted its view on the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the UN Special Envoy’s attempts to overcome the political crisis in Myanmar.

The NUG’s foreign minister said that they discussed the challenges they face on the ground amid the junta’s continuous crackdown against civilians, the NUG and its supporters, as well as issues related to humanitarian assistance and coordination with ethnic political forces.

The Myanmar regime has killed at least 1,498 civilians and arrested 11,787 people, including the country’s civilian leaders State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, according to monitoring group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Both US officials held talks with Daw Zin Mar Aung in September, when they discussed the issues of humanitarian assistance, the political and human rights situation in Myanmar, and COVID-19 vaccination programs. The meeting followed the US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman’s talk with Daw Zin Mar Aung in early August.

In October, the NUG’s acting president and foreign minister also met with Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser to US President Joe Biden.

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