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Junta Faces Renewed Opposition to Its Oppressive Rule

09/07/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Duwa Lashi La, the acting president of the National Unity Government (NUG), has called for a “people’s defensive war” to push back against the ruling military government. Duwa Lashi La issued the statement as part of a 14-point video address posted to Facebook, an immensely popular social media site in the country and a crucial tool for the NUG’s pro-democracy messaging tactics.

The call for a popular revolt is likely to deepen the already severe humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. There are already more than 500,000 internally displaced persons in the country and more have fled across the border into neighboring countries.

Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, seized control of the government in a February coup, deposing the country’s democratically elected civilian leaders. The months since have been marked by widespread civil disobedience and popular uprisings around the country and a brutal military crackdown against pockets of civilian resistance.

To date, the Tatmadaw has killed more than 1,000 civilians since the coup and imprisoned over 7,000 more. Of this latter number, nearly 6,000 are still being detained, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a human rights group.

The Tatmadaw arrested Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s civilian leader, during the coup, but many members of her deposed government escaped and have re-grouped under the NUG banner where they are currently working to create a pro-democracy movement powerful enough to sweep the Tatmadaw from power and restore the country to democracy.

A Christian who works closely with the NUG shared Bible verses from Deuteronomy 20:1-4 on social media after Duwa Lashi La made the call for a popular revolt, praying for God to “protect those who will fight for the justice and the peace among us.”

The Tatmadaw has a long history of violence against the people of Myanmar, including against Christian and Muslim religious minorities. ICC recently published a report detailing several of these minority groups and proposing actions that the international community can take to push back against the Tatmadaw.

The international community has been united in its condemnation of the Tatmadaw. Several rounds of sanctions, coordinated by governments around the world, may have made some difference. Still, the Tatmadaw has already been heavily sanctioned for years for human rights abuses stretching back decades. Earlier this year, it even mocked the new layers of sanctions, calling them ineffective and suggesting that the new sanctions were more symbolic than effective. In this, the Tatmadaw may have been correct, especially given the continued economic and military support it continues to receive from Russia and China.

“Myanmar’s National Unity Government deserves recognition and support from the international community,” said Jay Church, ICC’s Advocacy Manager for Southeast Asia. “The U.S. and its allies should refuse to deal with representatives of the Tatmadaw; it is not a legitimate government and does not represent the people of Myanmar. It should be rejected as it attempts to exert itself on the international stage.”

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