Myanmar’s Shadow Government Calls for Armed Revolt
The call to action is likely to bolster efforts made by various ethnic militias to oppose military rule in favor of a return to a more hands-off, democratic government.
Calls for Armed Revolt
Acting-President Duwa Lashi La, of Myanmar’s National Unity Government, called for supporters and citizens to lead a revolt against the country’s military junta, which has been in control over much of the nation since February.
The NUG is a shadow government made up of various ethnic groups and leaders from the party of former leader Aung San Suu Kyi who are either hiding within Myanmar or abroad. In a statement posted on Facebook Tuesday morning, the Acting-President told the nation, “With the responsibility to protect life and properties of the people, the National Unity Government declares as follows; Today, from 7th September 2021… we launched a people’s defensive war against the military junta.”
“As this is a public revolution, all the citizens within entire Myanmar, revolt against the rule of the military terrorists led by Min Aung Hlaing in every corner of the country.”
The announcement will likely lead to an increase in violence in the country, despite the military’s best efforts to crack down on organizers and leaders of popular protests. Reuters estimates that to date, over 1,000 people have been killed by the Burmese military since taking power, yet that power is not absolute.
The military is made up of largely the Bamar ethnic group, Myanmar’s largest; however, in states and territories controlled by the country’s other groups, military rule is far less absolute. In some areas, such as Karen or Shan states, the local ethnic groups (Myanmar’s first and second-biggest minority ethnic groups) have fought military rule for decades through various militias. Those regions are largely autonomous and mostly supported the democratic government of Aung San Suu Kyi due to her government recognizing their autonomy.
In addition to relying on dissatisfied Bamars and many of the country’s over 100 minority ethnic groups, the NUG also called for police and soldiers to defect from the military junta; something that has happened on a small scale over the last eight months.
United Nations Decision
The timing of the call for revolt is significant. In two weeks, the United Nations will likely reconsider who will be Myanmar’s representative to the organization. Kyaw Moe Tun currently represents Myanmar despite pushback from the military regime. He’s a loyalist to the pro-democracy groups in the country and even called for the world to remove the military “through any means necessary.”
The military has made efforts to replace him, but past efforts were stopped as the U.N. considered the country’s situation. However, outside of diplomatic overtures, the junta is also accused of attempting to assassinate him at his home in New York. Last month, two men were arrested due to their connection in the assassination plot.
Richard Horsey of the Myanmar International Crisis Group told CNN, “The NUG will be hoping to demonstrate that the regime does not have ‘effective control’ of Myanmar to undermine its chances of being seated at the UN.”
The U.N.’s decision in two weeks would signal to the world whether the organization actually thinks the military has effective control of the country.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hill) (Reuters)
95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home
The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.
A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.
Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.
At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.
They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.
The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.
She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.
Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.
After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.
Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.
See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)
U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”
The Public Order Act
A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.
The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”
It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.
“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”
An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests
During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated.
“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed.
“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”
Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”
“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote.
When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police.
For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.
“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages
The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.
As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.
On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.
An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.
“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.
Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.
More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.
Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.
Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.
Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.
Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.