Myanmar resistance movement calls for nationwide uprising

BANGKOK – The main underground group coordinating resistance to Myanmar’s military government called for a nationwide uprising on Tuesday.

The government of national unity sees itself as a shadow government made up of elected members of parliament who were denied their seats when the military seized power in February.

The incumbent president of the group, Duwa Lashi La, called for a revolt “in every village, town and town across the country at the same time” and declared a “state of emergency”.

Protesters hold up the three-finger salute during a demonstration against the military coup in Rangoon on July 29.AFP via Getty Images

The country has been in turmoil since the military overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, with low-level insurrection in many urban areas. More serious fighting broke out in rural areas, particularly in border areas where ethnic minority militias were involved in serious clashes with government forces.

The shadow government’s prime minister, Mahn Winn Khaing Thann, said in a separate statement posted online that the move was due to “changing circumstances” requiring the ruling military government to be abolished entirely. He did not elaborate.

There were no immediate signs of increased resistance activity, although some student groups and ethnic armed organizations showed their solidarity.

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The National Unity Government is popular in Myanmar, but its real power and influence is difficult to measure. It has frequently issued sweeping proclamations and political statements declaring military government and its actions invalid and illegal, but they have had little impact on the real world. It does not control any territory, does not control armed forces directly, and has not received diplomatic recognition from abroad. Members of his shadow cabinet are hiding in Myanmar and in exile.

Duwa Lashi La called on the ethnic militias, some of which have joined forces with the resistance, to “attack immediately” government forces and “take complete control of your country.” The ethnic armed forces, which have been fighting for more autonomy from Myanmar’s central government for decades, operate independently of the government of national unity.

Duwa Lashi La called for a “people’s revolution” and urged all soldiers and police to join the “people’s defense forces”. He also warned officials not to go to their offices.

Soldiers stand next to military vehicles as people gather to protest the February 15 military coup.Reuters

He advised people to be careful about their personal safety, avoid unnecessary travel, and stock up on food and medicine, a guide she had offered at least once when warning of impending difficulties. He said people should help the defense forces where they can, including with information about the government armed forces.

The resistance movement against the military takeover had built up “people’s defense forces” in many areas, but most of them operate locally and, when active, carry out small hit-and-run guerrilla operations.

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