European Parliament Throws Support Behind Myanmar’s Shadow Government

By The Irrawaddy 8 October 2021

The European Parliament has voted to support Myanmar’s shadow government and its parliamentary committee as the legitimate representatives of Myanmar, becoming the first international legislative body to officially endorse the organizations behind the fight against military rule in the Southeast Asian country.

The country has been mired in crisis since the military ousted the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) government in February, sparking mass protests and a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. After more than eight months, sporadic armed attacks on regime targets and reprisals by junta forces continue.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday, the European Parliament said it “supports the CRPH and the NUG as the only legitimate representatives of the democratic wishes of the people of Myanmar,” referring to the parallel National Unity Government (NUG) and its parliamentary Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CPRH), both of which were formed by ousted elected NLD lawmakers and their ethnic allies in the wake of the Feb. 1 takeover.

The motion was passed with 647 votes in favor, two against and 31 abstentions.

The EU Parliament’s show of support on Thursday comes as a major embarrassment to the Myanmar military regime, which seeks international recognition as the country’s rightful caretaker government and is struggling against a competing claim by the NUG.

Neither the NUG nor the CRPH were immediately available for comment on Friday.

Since its formation in April, the NUG has enjoyed popular support at home and abroad. It is supporting striking civil servants and resistance forces against the regime inside the country while lobbying for international acceptance as Myanmar’s legitimate government. Despite some unofficial engagements, however, it has yet to receive diplomatic recognition from foreign countries. Early last month, the shadow government called a nationwide revolt against the regime after deciding that diplomatic pressure was no longer strong enough to topple the junta.

The regime has branded the NUG and CRPH as terrorist organizations.

Early this week, the French Senate voted unanimously to recognize the NUG. If the French Parliament’s lower house approves the vote, France will become the first country to officially recognize Myanmar’s shadow government. The support from the EU parliament could be

In its resolution, the European Parliament also condemned the Myanmar military’s violent response to protesters, as well as its human rights violations against the people following the coup, saying “these ongoing abuses and actions amount to crimes against humanity”. As of Thursday, 1,159 people had been killed by the regime while ethnic and religious minorities have also suffered abuses, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and displacements due to the junta’s clearance operations in anti-regime strongholds.

The resolution calls for the immediate and unconditional release of President U Win Myint, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all others arrested by the military on unfounded accusations during and after the coup.

As ASEAN is playing a mediator role in an effort to resolve the Myanmar crisis, the European Parliament called on the regional bloc and its special envoy to Myanmar to engage with all parties involved, notably with the NUG and representatives of civil society. So far, the regime still hasn’t allowed the envoy to visit the country and the regional bloc has voiced disappointment with the junta’s lack of cooperation.

Internationally, the Parliament called on the regime’s allies China and Russia to live up to their responsibility as permanent members of the UN Security Council and said it expects them to play a constructive role when scrutinizing the situation in Myanmar. Both countries have long supported the regime at the council by vetoing critical resolutions by the US, the UK and France.

Finally, it urged EU countries to continue imposing targeted and robust sanctions to cut off the economic lifelines of the junta, as well as demanding member states push ahead with targeted restrictive measures against those responsible for the coup.

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