Recognize Myanmar unity gov’t before it’s ‘too late’, nations urged

Dr. Sasa, minister of International Cooperation and spokesperson of Myanmar’s National Unity Government, speaks with journalists from across 12 countries in Asia in an online press forum on Friday, May 14, 2021. Screengrab from Zoom

MANILA, Philippines — Myanmar’s pro-democracy unity government stressed the need for Southeast Asian leaders and the international community to immediately officially recognize it as the “sole legitimate” representative of the people of Myanmar, warning that delays in doing so could lead to a civil war and make way for “more atrocities.”

“We are saying to our Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) leaders that it’s their responsibility and duty not only recognize us but embrace us, endorse us, congratulate us, and engage us, cooperate with us to end this reign of terror in [the] Asian continent,” Dr. Sasa, international envoy for the National Unity Government (NUG), told journalists from across 12 countries in Asia in an online press briefing Friday.

“The more they delay, there will be more crime[s] against humanity happening. There will more atrocities happen[ing]. So many, many more bloodbaths [for] weeks, months, are coming if they do not recognize us as the government of Myanmar and engage with us, cooperate with us,” he added.

The NUG, which was formed in April, is composed of ousted lawmakers — many of whom are from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party.

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End ‘reign of terror’

“We appeal to Asean and the international community to engage with the NUG as the sole legitimate representative and government of the people. It is vitally important that the international community officially recognizes the NUG as soon as possible in order to help end the junta’s reign of terror,” the NUG official said.

If delays in the recognition of NUG as the legitimate government of Myanmar continue, chances for a “full blow of civil war” become “bigger and bigger,” he cautioned.

“Once this civil war blow becomes unstoppable, if our Asean leaders say ‘Oh, we will recognize you as the government, [it would be] too late. Unfortunately, the time is not [on] our side,” he said.

“We have no time now. That’s why we’re asking to do it quickly, immediately, as soon as possible. That is the only way to peace. That is the only way to stop this violence, that’s the only way to stability in the region in Asia,” he added.

Pro-democracy protests have been filling the streets of Myanmar since the military took power last February 1, with junta forces cracking down on protesters.

According to Dr. Sasa, around 800 civilians have been killed, at least 52 are children.

Meanwhile, some 5,000 civilians have been detained with roughly 4,000 still under detention, he added.

“The duty of the military is to defend and protect its people. However, under the command of Min Aung Hlaing, the supposed guardians of our nation are doing precisely the opposite of their duty,” he said.

“The duty of the military is to defend and protect its people. However, under the command of Min Aung Hlaing, the supposed guardians of our nation are doing precisely the opposite of their duty,” he added.

Myanmar’s military seized power against the democratically elected government of Suu Kyi, who was detained along with other leaders of her National League for Democracy party in early morning raids on February 1.

READ: West increases pressure on Myanmar generals as charges filed against Suu Kyi

The coup followed a landslide win for Suu Kyi’s party in the Nov. 8 elections in 2020, a result the military has refused to accept citing unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.

But Dr. Sasa maintained that the elections were “free and fair.”

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

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