– How the International Community Should Understand the Situations –
On the 1st February 2022, we commemorated one year since the coup and people’s continuing resistance in Myanmar.
In January 2022, BEBESEA spoke with H.E Mr. Bo Hla-Tint, or U Bo, theNational Unity Government of Myanmars’ (NUG) Ambassador to ASEAN. The NUG was established on the 16th of April 2021 as a government in exile. U Bo is a prominent political figure, who co-founded the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) on the Thai-Burma border in December 1990.
The full conversation is available on Voicesea Podcast. This article is part 1 of 4.
On the background of the NUG, the attempted coup and military ruling – How should the international community understand the situations?
The National Unity Government (NUG) was established in 2021. It is the only legitimate government by the people and because it is comprised of elected members of the parliament from the 2020 nationwide election, in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) won landslide victory. The military feared that their dominant role in the Burmese politics would be lost. So the landslide victory of the NLD is one of the key reasons why the military tried to attempt to make a coup, but as all of you know, the military coup is not achieving one, it was a failed one, and the military is not able to attain the power they are craving yet.
The 2020 election was the second time the NLD won a landslide victory. The first win was in 2015, giving the energy (to the country) to be able to establish democratic institutions and democratic initiatives. However, at the same time, the election was done based on the 2008 constitution written by the military, which unfortunately the NLD led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had to work under. Under this constitution, 25% of top to down legislature is held by the military, giving them automatic 25% controls not only in the legislature, but also in the administrative system. This means the elected civilian government was only able to handle 75% of the legislature within limited freedom.
However, from 2015 until 2020, within the five years under the partially controlled or managed elected civilian government led by President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the young generation especially were able to taste the democratic freedom in the society. Because of the technological development of the world, they are able to learn and understand what others are doing regionally or internationally and how other people and youth are enjoying their freedom, human rights and the democratic atmosphere in general. This is why the attempted military coup triggered the public’s anger because they were overwhelmingly happy and expecting that the country to become a more democratic society and that they would be able to expand their lived experience of the last five years. That is why they strongly rejected the military attempt to grab the power of the state and nationwide peaceful demonstrations were launched by the leadership of the new generation within the nation.
Secondly, the civil disobedience movement or CDM is very significant. It is led or participated by all ranks within the government civil servants or workers of every sector of the Burmese Society. They took the initiative of this nonviolent anti-military coup movement. They called for non-cooperation, as the military was trying to make a coup, they would not accept any order or any directive from the military junta. So, they would be on strike as a very powerful and nationwide CDM, in which the majority of the government servants and public sector employees were involved. It was very powerful because it was able to stop all the operating systems of, for example, the education and health sectors, banking and financial systems as well as the transportation because of railway workers and employees involved in the CDM and stopped working under the military rule. Both the CDM and nationwide peaceful protests led by the new generation overwhelmingly threatened the military.
This is why when the military didn’t get the power they wanted, they changed into angrily launching the brutal crackdown against peaceful demonstrations. Up to now, there are 11,665 people who have been arbitrarily arrested as politically motivated acts. All of them are elected leaders of democracy, human rights activists, artists, you name it, people believe in democracy and respect for human rights. The military name or label them as enemies and they all were arrested. Now these 11,665 people are in prison without proper trials. Recently, two prominent leaders of the new generation, Ko Jimmy and Zeyar Thaw, have been sentenced to death by the military authorities because of their active leadership role in the nationwide peaceful protests, as well as Zeyar Thaw’s involvement in supporting the people’s defence forces (PDFs) to be able to resist the military’s brutal crackdowns. At the same time, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged with an additional four year sentence. All these clearly indicate that the military is very desperate when they don’t get the power and when they are faced with the total rejection by the majority of the population. I may say that 85% of the people do not agree with their attempt to make a coup. They totally reject it and they want unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners. They want President U Win Myint back into power.
NUG is also a product of the attempted military coup that led public anger, nationwide peaceful protests, and CDM. All these things happened because of the attempted military coup against the democratic clean election in 2020 November and its result – against the will of the people. In democracy, everybody agrees that the power of the state only rests in the power of the people. So, the military’s attempt to grab power and their lack of capability are causing all these prices today we are facing, while we already have been facing the COVID 19 pandemic threats especially since we are a poor country.
The military desperately stays trying launching a very strong heavy military offensive, especially targeting the strong resistance movement. Kayah State, Kayin State, Kachin State and Chin State, Sagaing Region and Maguy Region – All these areas have very strong people’s resistance movements led by the NUG and PDFs found by the NUG. The situation is clear now that resistance movements led by the NUG and Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), working together with all major ethnic groups, PDFs and local PDFs, are getting stronger. However, the military is desperately using billions of arms and ammunition they bought from China, Selvia, Belarus and Russia. They are using all these modernised weapons against its own people.
Regional and international powers sometimes recognise that the military is in control and are trying to approach with a peaceful solution, sailing that “Peace process and talking to each other will be the best solution.” Principally we accept constructive initiative and engagement, but in the case of Myanmar, it is totally different. The military is the one who violated fundamental freedom of the Myanmar people. Elected civilian government and all the people are losing all the rights they have had because of the military junta. So, in the case of Myanmar, the international community has to clearly understand what is really going on. It is not the conflict between the NLD and the military. It is not the conflict between the ethnic armed organisations and the military. But it is a huge problem between the people who originally own the power and the military who want to get the power without consensus of the people. This is the picture of Myanmar today. This is the problem between the oppressed people of Myanmar and the oppressing military junta. We have to see the clear picture and when you say to find any peaceful solutions, you have to understand what the Myanmar people would like to have – why they are in protest against the military junta.
The full conversation is available on Voicesea Podcast. This article will be followed by part 2 of 4, which discusses a year of people’s revolution.