11 July 2024

A cry for help – Prevent civil war and restore human rights by officially recognizing us, Myanmar’s pro-democracy government pleads

Myanmar’s pro-democracy unity government is urging the international community and especially ASEAN leaders to officially recognize its National Unity Government (NUG) as the sole legitimate representative of the people of Myanmar in a bid to prevent civil war.

The recognition must come immediately to stop the military government from arresting and killing the people in Myanmar. The country is quickly becoming a failed state with nearly a quarter of a million people displaced and half of the country’s 54 million population expected to be living in poverty within a year.

“We are saying to our ASEAN leaders that it’s their responsibility and duty to not only recognize us but embrace us, endorse us, congratulate us, engage with us, and cooperate with us to end this reign of terror,” said Dr. Sasa (Salai Muang Taing San), Minister of International Cooperation of the NUG, in an online press briefing to journalists from 12 countries in Asia.

The NUG, which was formed on April 16, consists of ousted lawmakers, many of whom are from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, members of ethnic groups, and key figures in the anti-coup protest.

During the virtual press event, Dr. Sasa expressed concern about the high risk of a civil war if the military doesn’t stop killing. So far, more than 800 civilians have been slain including at least 52 children. Approximately 5,000 civilians have been detained. Of that number, 4,000 remain in detention.

“Human rights will be at the center of our government,” he said, announcing a roadmap for forming a federal democratic government in Myanmar and establishing a permanent constitution that will ensure the human rights of all people regardless of race and religion.

Myanmar’s climate of fear – media restricted and civilians intimidated

Press cards, cameras and all equipment set aside, news reporters in Myanmar go underground and carry on doing their jobs, amid the climate of fear, brought on by the military junta. Ordinary civilians, meanwhile, live in constant fear of arbitrary arrest and intimidation, deprived of the right to information and free movement.

The NUG has said it is going to consult the Rohingya leaders across the world and engage them in its next courses of action as it seeks to regain power from the military junta that took control of the country through a coup in February this year.

“We are going to start meeting the Rohingya leaders and engage them in our next course of action,” said Dr. Sasa.

For more than seven decades, the Myanmar military has been depriving the ethnic groups including Karen, Kachin, and Rakhine people of their rights and freedom. “While the coup has created a crisis, it has also given scope for real change,” he noted.

One of the goalposts in the NUG’s roadmap is to build a federal democratic Union of Myanmar. “This is the elephant in the room, so to speak. There will never be peace, freedom, democracy, or a future for the Myanmar people until a federal democratic union is instituted where the rights of all will be equally protected and respected regardless of race, religion, culture, ethnicity, gender, and background.”

Delay and civil war is in sight

“If delays in the recognition of NUG as the legitimate government of Myanmar continue, the chances of a “full-blown of civil war” become “bigger and bigger,” Dr. Sasa stressed.

“Time is not on our side. We have no time now. That’s why we’re asking that this recognition comes quickly, immediately, as soon as possible. That is the only way to (restore) peace. That is the only way to stop this violence. That’s the only way to ensuring stability in the region in Asia,” he added.

He said the dialogue could only commence once the coup leaders stop killing, release all political prisoners and withdraw all battlefield arms nationwide. “They must end the reign of terror and return the power to the democratically elected civilian government.”

Pro-democracy protests have been filling the streets of Myanmar since the military seized power on February 1, with junta forces cracking down on protesters. The coup followed a landslide win for Suu Kyi’s party in the November 8, 2020 elections, a result the military has refused to accept citing unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.

“The people of Myanmar have chosen us, democratically, in a free and fair election, which was recognized by the whole world,” Dr. Sasa said.

“They have voted to end the military dictatorship once and for all. Now is the time for the international community to uphold the will of the people of Myanmar by recognizing the people’s democratically elected National Unity Government as the sole legitimate government representing the people of Myanmar,” he added.

Myanmar warns of regional crisis as international help is delayed

The Myanmar National Unity Government (NUG) is warning of a regional crisis, escalating from the current situation in Myanmar, as no meaningful action has been taken by ASEAN, or the international community, in the 100 days since the February 1st coup. “If help is further delayed, the situation will become uncontrollable.