By U Yee Mon
The current notion of state sovereignty can be broken down into four aspects: territory, population, authority and recognition. As our National Unity Government (NUG) consolidates its control over Myanmar, we have earned the right, as bestowed on us by the people, to be internationally recognized as the legal government of our country with full access and participation in international bodies such as the United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
It has now been more than 20 months since Myanmar’s junta staged its attempted coup to reinstate military rule. The reaction from the people was immediate. Massive nonviolent demonstrations rocked the country. Myanmar had taken hesitant steps to move towards a more open democratic process and the military was trying to snuff it out.
Elections in November 2021 saw the democratic political parties, led by the National League for Democracy (NLD), win an overwhelming supermajority of seats in both houses of parliament. For example, NLD candidates won 920 (or 82 percent) of the total 1,117 elected seats contested nationwide in the general election. The NLD also had sweeping victories in state/regional parliaments and ethnic affairs minister posts dealing the military affiliated parties a crushing political blow. It was the results of this election the military has been trying to overturn. The people have said “NO WAY.”
The military has waged a brutal war against the people of Myanmar. More than 2,300 innocent civilians have been murdered and 15,800 arrested according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. The UN estimates approximately 1.2 million people are internally displace or have fled the country including 900,000 Rohingya who this same junta attempted to exterminate through a campaign of genocide according to the U.S State Department. On 16 September, a school located in Let Yet Kone village in Sagaing Region came under attack from the air and ground for hours by the Myanmar military. This air attack kills 13 as young as 6, and more than 20 people, including 12 wounded children and teachers were also taken by the junta’s soldiers. Over the protests of countries around the world, the UN and ASEAN, junta executed four democracy activists in July. The human suffering inflicted by the military has been horrific.
In Australia, a parliamentarian’s motion cited the Myanmar army’s aerial bombing of a music festival in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township on Sunday night which killed at least 100 people and left some 200 more injured.
Despite all this the people refuse to be cowed. Peoples Defense Forces (PDF) have been formed throughout the country to protect cities, towns and villages and strike back against junta forces. Cooperation with ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) has never been better. The NUG and allied ethnic organizations are determined to uproot the terrorist military dictatorship. The next 12 months is considered the “decisive year for the ultimate success of the final battle” by the democratic forces.
The junta is losing. A report recently released by the independent Special Advisory Council for Myanmar highlights the regime’s downward spiral into oblivion: “Allied Resistance forces loyal to the NUG are waging a highly effective campaign of non-violent and armed resistance against the Myanmar military.”
The report had other key findings:
- The democratic revolution, solidifying around a shared vision of federal democracy, has a viable pathway to ending decades of oppression by the military. The mass uprising of Myanmar people against a return to autocratic military rule continues to build in intensity and is not going to cease anytime soon.
- The junta does not have effective control of Myanmar. It is unable to effectively administer the functions of government and shows no signs of establishing a permanent order. The military’s strategy to gain control is focused on committing mass atrocities and causing humanitarian suffering amongst the civilian population.
- The junta is losing what control it does have at an increasing rate. The conflict’s trajectory currently favors the democratic revolution as both armed and non-violent resistance to the junta continues to build. International support is required to put the country more decisively on a path to peace, stability and civilian rule. Denying recognition to the junta and providing it instead to the National Unity Government is a priority.
- Resistance forces and organizations are now the de facto authorities in the majority of the territory of Myanmar, and for the majority of the population.
- The NUG is committed to creating a federal, democratic state that fully values justice, equality, and individual rights. It is preparing a system that that includes all the country’s democratic forces that will continuously providing support to the non-violent movement and military training and equipment for its PDF/ethnic forces.
The NUG is also moving aggressively to set up schools, establish healthcare facilities, a judicial system, and also bring responsive governance to areas under its growing control—in short, all the mechanisms that make the NUG the legitimate government of the Myanmar people are being put in place to demonstrate sovereignty.
The international community should acknowledge this progress while measuring it against the death, instability, and destruction that the junta delivers every day to areas under its shrinking control by recognizing the NUG. I am proud of the courage and determination of my countrymen, women and colleagues. Rejecting the junta and embracing the NUG will mark a dramatic step in supporting them as we work to bring peace and prosperity to our beloved, shattered homeland.
U Yee Mon is Minister of Defense for the National Unity Government