A shadow government comprising of ousted lawmakers loyal to Myanmar’s detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi declared war against the military regime that seized control of the country seven months ago.
In a speech posted on social media on Tuesday, the acting president of the National Unity Government, Duwa Lashi La called on citizens to revolt against the junta led by Min Aung Hlaing, who declared himself prime minister after overthrowing Myanmar’s democratically-elected government.
The declaration of war signals an escalation in the Myanmar military’s decades-long conflict with various groups. This also comes as Myanmar struggles with containing virus cases with the military government agreeing to a four-month ceasefire so that humanitarian aid can be safely distributed in the war-torn nation.
“The entire world knows that the military is constantly committing inhumane war crimes,” he said in a Facebook post. From today, “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, calling on civil servants to abandon their posts and ethnic armed groups to target the junta’s assets and forces.
The order comes just as China and Russia begin the process of rebooting ties with Myanmar following the coup, while the U.S. has led international efforts to sanction the military. Last month, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman reiterated U.S. support for the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar during a discussion with the NUG’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zin Mar Aung.
The State Administration Council’s lead spokesman Zaw Min Tun said the NUG’s declaration of war was just a threat. “They are threatening on air only. Sound only, no action,” he said. “They continue to spread rumors on air. We urge the people not to believe such rumors and not to be worried about them,” he added.