Myanmar’s resistance movement declares ‘war’ against junta and calls for nationwide uprising

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Duwa Lashi La’s message was posted on Facebook  (AP)
Duwa Lashi La’s message was posted on Facebook (AP)

Myanmar’s National Unity Government, an underground resistance movement against the military regime, has declared “defensive war” against the ruling junta, calling for a nationwide uprising in "in every village, town and city”.

In a video posted on Facebook on Tuesday, Duwa Lashi La, the acting president of the NUG, called for revolt against the junta led by General Min Aung Hlaing, who declared himself prime minister after seizing power from Myanmar’s democratically-elected government.

“The entire world knows that the military is constantly committing inhumane war crimes,” he said. “[So] we launched a people’s defensive war against the military junta.”

“We have to initiate a nationwide uprising in every village, town and city in the entire country at the same time,” he said.

Mr Lashi La declared a “state of emergency”, issuing a rallying call for “people’s revolution”.

The country has been in a state of turmoil since 1 February when the armed forces seized power from the democratically elected government in a swift coup, triggering mass civilian-led protests demanding a return to democracy.

More than 1,000 people have been killed since then in the protests, according to a monitoring group.

Armed police on patrol in Yangon on Tuesday (EPA)
Armed police on patrol in Yangon on Tuesday (EPA)

The shadow government comprises ousted lawmakers loyal to Myanmar’s detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar has a decades-long history of conflict with various groups. Following the coup, some of the ethnic militias, who have been fighting for greater autonomy from the central government, have declared alliance with the NUG.

The resistance movement has established “people’s defence forces” in many areas, but they mostly operate locally and when active, carry out small-scale hit-and-run guerrilla operations.

Mahn Winn Khaing Thann, prime minister of the shadow government, said in a separate statement posted online that the move was taken due to “changing circumstances” that required the complete abolition of the ruling military regime.

Mr Lashi La called on ethnic militias to “immediately attack” military-ruled government forces and “fully control your lands”.

In the message he also called for police and civilians to join “people’s defence forces”. He asked civil servants to abandon their posts.

“From today onwards, all the civil servants under the military council, we warn and forbid you from going to the office,” he said, advising civilians to “avoid unnecessary travelling”.

Tuesday’s announcement has reportedly prompted panic buying in some of the areas. An unconfirmed video showed people rushing to buy essential items from a supermarket in the country’s business hub of Yangon.

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The declaration of war against the junta comes as China and Russia are in the process of rebooting ties with the military-ruled Myanmar government. The US, which had imposed sanctions against the military, reiterated its support for the pro-democracy movement last month during deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman’s talk with the NUG’s foreign affairs minister Zin Mar Aung.

Meanwhile, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has been attempting to open a dialogue between the military rulers and resistance movement through diplomatic efforts to end the violence.

Additional reporting by agencies

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