HomeWorldOpinion: In Myanmar, we are no strangers to Russian weapons

Opinion: In Myanmar, we are no strangers to Russian weapons


He released my country’s first hip-hop album in 2000. In Myanmar at the time, this was almost a revolution. His rap touched the lives of many.

In 2011, after a stint in prison for his political activism and just as our democratic transition was beginning, Zeyar Thaw was released and elected to parliament.

His crime? The regime accuses them of being “involved in terrorist acts.” What does this mean? Who believe in freedom.
the National Unity Government (NUG) has recorded almost 3,000 people who have been killed since the illegal coup. More than a million people have been displaced from their homes and many are seeking refuge in refugee camps. Another 1.6 million more have lost their jobs. More than 19,000 houses have been destroyed, estimates the NUG.
I was elected by the people of my constituency in November 2020. I was waiting to take the oath of office and elect our next president. But on February 1, 2021, soldiers under command of General-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing surrounded the dormitories where we lived as members of parliament. They forced each of us to choose: do we surrender to their weapons or do we resist?

I had already endured 11 harsh years as a political prisoner under a previous military regime between 1998 and 2009. Most of them were spent in solitary confinement. This time, I couldn’t just watch another despotic general throw my country into chaos. I chose resistance.

So did Zeyar Thaw and Ko Jimmy and many thousands in Myanmar. Nurses, teachers, doctors, farmers, even children, took to the streets against the unwanted coup.

We choose to assert our legitimacy, as elected members of parliament. We form the Government of National Unity because our freedom will not be stolen by the Russian arms of the military.

Russia is still a major arms supplierequipment and training to the armed forces of my country, including fighter jets, helicopters and drones, weapons that have been used to bomb and kill civilians from the hit.

We have first-hand experience that Russia’s military interference is not limited to Ukraine. Russia and Myanmar are strengthening their ties, and we see this as part of a broader strategic engagement with Southeast Asia: a coordinated attempt to promote autocracy and erode democracy in the region.

In turn, the military junta has sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine. Last week a high-level delegation from the military council attended the 25th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum with the aim of strengthening its ties with the Russian regime.
Myanmar Commander-in-Chief General-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing at the Armed Forces Day in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, on March 27, 2021.

We live in a world where dictators support each other to maintain their power. Therefore, it must be made clear that the struggle for democracy and freedom waged by the people of Myanmar is a struggle that concerns everyone.

I am the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Government of National Unity of Myanmar. It is my task to tell the world that we will not be defeated. But what can I say to the people of Myanmar in return? What is the world telling us?

More than a year after the coup, no country has formally recognized General Min Aung Hlaing’s regime. The army continues its campaign of violence: killing, burning, destroying food and crops, jailing people without charge. The generals are accused of heinous crimes against the Rohingya Muslim community and other ethnic minorities in our country.

He claims he is targeting what he calls and has designated “terrorists” and blames many of these incidents on resistance fighters, rather than his own military.

Military equipment is displayed during the 77th Myanmar Armed Forces Day parade in Naypyidaw on March 27.
But US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken words in march 2022 need to be heard: “There is no one for whom the Burmese army will not come. No one is safe from atrocities under their rule. Therefore, more people in Burma now recognize that ending this crisis, restoring the path to democracy It starts with guaranteeing the human rights of all people in the country, including the Rohingya.”

We have to beat this junta by changing their calculus so that they realize that they cannot keep Myanmar forever in the chains of their fear and greed.

This is how we’re going to do it.

We must deny the junta the revenue that funds its violence. The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom have imposed some sanctions against the regime. But much more must be done to deny the junta the hard currency it craves.

The army continues to depend on funds from foreign companies to finance its acts of war. That flow of money, especially oil dollars, must and can be stopped.

It also depends on Russia. Russian weapons are arriving in my country and Min Aung Hlaing has visited Moscow and has even been honored by a Moscow university since the coup. Russia’s veto makes it impossible for the UN Security Council to reach a common position to stop this violence.

The example of Ukraine demonstrates how the world can use economic levers to put pressure on a regime.

Until now, sanctions have been used in Myanmar mainly against individuals: more can and should be done to go after oil revenues and the ease with which the military can use the international banking system to extract its stolen wealth and import the weapons. they need to prosecute. their crimes. Recently, the UK government sanctions imposed against Russian companies that support the military junta: this is a step in the right direction.

The murderous acts of the Myanmar military will not stop until their revenue fails.

Internally, we will beat the board by the power of inclusion. My country has been at war with itself for many decades. Now, in opposition to the military, a new alliance between Myanmar’s ethnic groups is building a new shared future. We are addressing the root causes of the violence through our new Federal Democratic Charter, a blueprint for a decentralized and inclusive Myanmar. We are learning together where we should go.

This vision has been validated by our National Trade Union Consultative Council, the most inclusive, substantive and people-oriented process we have ever had in Myanmar. This NUCC brings together representatives from different political parties, ethnic voices, and civil society to create common solutions to the challenges we face. We are learning together where we should go.

And we are putting this inclusion into practice. Many parts of our country are now free of junta control thanks to the courage of ethnic resistance organizations and the actions of people defending their own homes.

In these areas, we are working with ethnic, political, and civil society organizations to build local administrations led by representatives of the people, and these new administrations are taking responsibility for health and human services.

Another element of our plan is to oppose the fake elections that the junta intends to impose on the country.

This tactic is a familiar one, creating elections where only they can run, only they can win, and then flaunting the result like it matters. This traps Myanmar in endless cycles of disempowerment and violence.

Karen refugees who fled fighting between the Myanmar army and insurgent groups, in a temporary camp on the Myanmar side of the Moei River, which forms the border with Thailand.
Our intention is to give the people of the country real freedom, not a mockery that serves the ambitions of a general who knows the people despised him the last time he had a choice.
At the international level, we affirm the right of the people of Myanmar to the government of their choice. The French Senate and other parliaments have already determined that we are the legitimate government, because we carry the authority of the 2020 elections and the consent of the people.
The current ASEAN Five Point Consensus has failed. The international community needs a more effective strategy to help Myanmar and restore civilian rule.
This must start with a more effective plan to deliver humanitarian assistance. Efforts to provide aid will fail if donors allow the military to have a veto over how it is delivered — Min Aung Hlaing and his minions don’t care about people’s suffering. They have even done it in the last few days. specific food supplies to starve our people.
Myanmar's coup leaders tried to crush the resistance.  But a year later, it's stronger than ever

They have made it clear that they want full control over humanitarian aid as a way to gain legitimacy and influence in their strategy.

We, in the Government of National Unity, stand ready to allow humanitarian agencies to reach those most in need. Myanmar has a resilient civil society that is doing incredible work to serve their communities. Humanitarian aid can and should be delivered accountable to the people of Myanmar.

Finally, we must hold Min Aung Hlaing and his minions accountable for the crimes they committed. the murdered childrenthe people captured and tortured in prison, the villagers forced to watch their crops destroyed — victims have a right to justice, and it will not be denied.

We have seen the international reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That reaction gives me hope. We do not want to live in a world where such crimes can be committed with impunity. People believe that Ukraine can and should be free.

My country, its people and my friends, Zeyar Thaw and Ko Jimmy, about to be assassinated, are waiting for the world to believe that Myanmar too can be free.



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