Myanmar's shadow government declares resistance war in 'public revolution' against junta

By South-East Asia correspondent Mazoe Ford and Jason Dasey
Myanmar's shadow government calls for a citizen revolt against the military regime.

Myanmar's National Unity Government, formed by opponents of the country's military coup, has urged all citizens to revolt against the junta government.

Formed two months after the February 1 coup, the National Unity Government (NUG) is comprised of ousted politicians and the heads of many of Myanmar's ethnic groups.

Sharing his demands on Facebook, the NUG's acting president Duwa Lashi La called for "a people's defensive war against the military junta", and urged ethnic organisations to immediately attack coup leader Min Aung Hlaing.

He also called on soldiers, police and civil servants to defect to the "public revolution".

"Following the coup, the [Myanmar] people have not passed a day with joy. It has been eight months since the military continuously and cruelly murdered, tortured, detained and imprisoned using many laws," he said in the subtitled video which lasted almost eight minutes.

Military leader Min Aung Hlaing became Myanmar's prime minister last month. (AP)

"As this is a public revolution, all the citizens within [the] entire Myanmar, revolt against the rule of the military terrorists led by Min Aung Hlaing in every corner of the country."

The junta has previously branded the NUG and People's Defence Forces as terrorist groups.

It said on Tuesday a call for revolt by the shadow government was a bid to gain international attention and recognition from the United Nations General Assembly that would not succeed.

The NUG is seeking to destabilise the country, including disrupting a national coronavirus vaccination programme, but is heading for failure, military spokesman Zaw Min Tun said, according to the Telegram channel of the army-owned Myawaddy television. 

As part of the revolution, Duwa Lashi La said that civil servants, including those recently appointed by the military, should "immediately leave" their positions and stop being "deceived".

"From today onward, all the civil servants under the military council, we warn and forbid you from going to the office," he said.

"All the Border Guard Forces (BGF) and all the militias being deceived by the junta ... from now on, join with the people and attack the people's enemy.

The ousting of democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi sparked widespread protests across Myanmar. (Reuters)

Spokesperson for the NUG, Dr Sasa, told the ABC the NUG's declaration was about formally laying out a strategy to topple the military regime and unite the people.

"The only way to make the junta weaker is for the people's revolution to coordinate together," Dr Sasa said.

"This is the only option left, there is no other option like diplomatic options or political options."

Dr Sasa, who goes by one name, said it was also important to show the international community that the people of Myanmar remain steadfastly opposed to living under a military dictatorship.

"It is very significant that we all now declare ourselves in front of the world, in front of our neighbours, and in front of the military generals that we are united," he said.

"We will no longer live in fear."

More than 1,000 killed since coup

Over 1,000 civilians have been killed in pro-democracy protests since February, with many more injured. (Reuters)

Since February's coup, the South-East Asian nation has descended into chaos, with months of clashes between pro-democracy protesters and security forces.

According to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group, the official death toll passed 1,000 last month. The toll does not include members of the security forces.

Also last month, Min Aung Hlaing became the nation's prime minister, before repeating a pledge to hold fresh democratic elections by 2023. 

Earlier this week, Myanmar's military rulers agreed to an ASEAN call for a ceasefire until the end of the year to ensure the distribution of humanitarian aid.

Erywan Yusof, ASEAN's special envoy to Myanmar, has negotiated a temporary ceasefire. (Reuters: Ain Bandial )

That was after the efforts of ASEAN envoy, Erywan Yusof, who proposed a ceasefire with Myanmar's Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin on Sunday.

He said the military had accepted the ceasefire to "ensure safety [and the] security of the humanitarian workers" in their efforts to distribute aid safely.

Mr Erywan added that he was negotiating with the military over a visit to Myanmar in late October, where he would seek access to ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

But pro-democracy groups were unimpressed by the Myanmar junta's concession, saying it could not be trusted to stick to the deal.

During his Facebook address, Duwa Lashi La warned NUG supporters to protect themselves during "the people's revolution" and prepare for tougher times.

"Arrange to protect the safety and lives and properties of the people in your respective villages and towns ... avoid unnecessary travelling and mind your personal safety," he said.

"Save necessary supplies and medications.

'We've never been united like this before'

Pro-democracy activist, Thinzar Shunlei Yi, told the ABC the people's war began when the military seized power, but she believed there would be more defensive action now.

She said she thought one of the reasons the NUG wanted to formally declare the revolution now was to bring international attention back to the situation in Myanmar.

Pro-democracy activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi hopes the announcement will revive international awareness of the Myanmar crisis. (Reuters: Ann Wang)

In one week's time at the UN General Assembly (UNGA), its credentials committee will have to decide what to do about Myanmar's membership with the body.

"I hope [the NUG declaration] will raise international awareness of what is happening to the people in this country because we have been killed almost every day, and we have been tortured and arrested," Ms Shunlei said.

The UNGA's credentials committee could recognise the junta's representative, the NUG's representative, neither, or neither but allow the current representative to remain in the role temporarily.

After the credentials committee makes its recommendation there will then be a vote by the UN General Assembly's 193 member states, including Australia.


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