National Unity Government Must be Recognized on Regional and International Stage

April 22nd, 2021  •  Author:    •  10 minute read
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The NUG is the legitimate government of Myanmar, with the groundswell of support from the people, and must be recognized as such by countries and bodies around the world.

On Friday 16 April 2021, it was announced that the National Unity Government (NUG), consisting of members of the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), diverse political parties, ethnic nationalities consultative councils, the Civil Disobedience Movement, general strike committees, and leaders of ethnic armed organizations, has been formed. It is a historically significant step towards a future federal Myanmar and must be recognized on the international stage as the legitimate government of Myanmar, most pressingly by ASEAN. Meanwhile, in a week typically full of festivities and celebration – Thingyan – the illegitimate military regime continues to commit atrocities against the people of Myanmar who remain defiant in the face of such brutality.

The announcement of the NUG was made by Min Ko Naing, veteran leader of the 1988 protests, from the Facebook page of the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) – the body of MPs elected in the 2020 elections. This follows on from the Federal Charter that was released on 31 March and simultaneously voided the military-drafted 2008 Constitution. The NUG is an interim government that retains the State Counsellor position, filled by the detained Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as the position of the President, which remains U Win Myint, who also remains in detention. There are a total of 26 cabinet members that includes deputy positions. Several are taken by ethnic nationalities such as Duwa Lashi La as Vice President, and Naw Susanna Hla Hla Soe as Minister of Women, Youth, and Children’s Affairs, while her deputy is a prominent protest leader, Ei Thinzar Maung. The inclusion of Naw Htoo Paw who comes from conflict-affected areas and has worked extensively with these communities in southeast Myanmar in her work with ethnic Community-Based Organizations, as Deputy Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, is a positive sign. The announcement has been welcomed by many ethnic civil society organizations including the All Arakan Students’ and Youth Congress, Ta’ang Political Consultative Committee, Kachin Political Interim Coordination Team, Karen National Liberation Army – Brigade 5, Karenni State Consultative Committee, Rohingya Solidarity Organization, Mon National Network, among others.

This diversity of representation is important, but given the short period of time in forming the NUG, and the limited ability to consult with stakeholders, under the extremely challenging and risky circumstances, there is a risk that representation is not yet as inclusive as it should and could be. Despite this, the NUG is an unprecedented coming together of peoples’ representatives from the election as well as from other important sectors of society. It is hoped that such representation can work to end a systematic Burman-majority domination in politics that has perpetuated State-led Burmanization –  a feature of military and non-military rule in Myanmar’s modern history since its independence from Britain in 1948. Further steps must be taken to establish a genuine federal democratic country through a federal constitution agreed upon by all relevant stakeholders.

This tacit recognition of the military junta is an insult to the people of Myanmar who are dying in the hundreds to rid the country of the military and speaks volumes to ASEAN’s human rights stance.

The NUG is the legitimate government of Myanmar, with the groundswell of support from the people, and must be recognized as such by countries and bodies around the world. A litmus test for regional support for democracy in Myanmar is the upcoming ASEAN Emergency Summit on Myanmar, to be held in Jakarta on 24 April. Proposed by Indonesia, it is of huge disappointment that the junta leader and a criminal who stands accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, is slated to take Myanmar’s seat. This tacit recognition of the military junta is an insult to the people of Myanmar who are dying in the hundreds to rid the country of the military and speaks volumes to ASEAN’s human rights stance. It also sets a dangerous precedent for the region as a whole that it will recognize and allow the illegitimate coup leader who is committing such horrific and inhumane acts against his country’s men, women and children to be invited to the ASEAN Summit. If ASEAN cannot recognise the NUG, it must suspend Myanmar from membership until the military accepts the authority of the NUG and places itself under the NUG. Furthermore, ASEAN must commit to humanitarian solutions to the mass displacement of civilians that the junta’s deliberate and indiscriminate attacks are causing across the country.

The need for a legitimate government is pressing given the continued terror that the terrorist military junta is inflicting upon the civilians and the anti-coup resistance movement. The murders of protesters, arbitrary arrests, torture in detention and the announcements of death sentences for people on national television are continuing. One example is that of Ko Wai Moe Naing, known affectionately as the Panda of Monywa, he has been leading anti-junta protests in the city of Monywa, Sagaing Region, for weeks. A private car deliberately rammed into his motorcycle during a protest, and armed thugs chased him and took him into military detention. A distressing photo of him in custody, bruised and battered, has been circulating. There are now genuine fears that his life is at risk from severe torture, especially given the various examples of the deaths of detainees in military custody since the coup as well as the fact that he is Muslim, a religious minority that has suffered from particular persecution from the military. Ko Wai Moe Naing is just one high-profile example, and the arrests continue of dozens of others everyday. Many famous actors, models and other celebrities have now been targeted, while the military has taken to announcing those who are wanted on national television, attempting to instill fear into the hearts of the brave protesters. As of 20 April, there are 3,261 people detained or been sentenced and a further 970 with arrest warrants out for them according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. At last 738 have been murdered by the junta since 1 February.

Meanwhile, in ethnic areas, armed conflict is increasing, with the military junta launching airstrikes against Kachin Independence Army positions, added to the March airstrikes in Karen State and Bago Region against the Karen National Union (KNU). Since the renewed military offensives against the KNU, 30,000 people have been displaced. Yet the protests have not stopped, such as the demonstration in Shwebo, Sagaing Region on 18 April, stressing the multiethnic unity of the opposition.

As Min Ko Naing stated in his announcement of the formation of the NUG, “Only the people can decide the future.” While still a work-in-progress, at this time the NUG is the only legitimate body to represent the people of Myanmar. The effects of displacement, instability and a humanitarian crisis is already spilling over Myanmar’s borders. If ASEAN is concerned about the stability of the region, supporting a murderous military that is creating chaos and terror will do long-term damage to the security of the region and the reputation of ASEAN in the eyes of the people in Myanmar, ASEAN countries, and the wider world. ASEAN must demonstrate, despite the many past disappointments and lack of confidence in its political will, to uphold its Charter and Declarations, and its own promises to the people of the region. It must not be bullied by Myanmar’s illegitimate military junta. ASEAN must set a precedent for the rest of the world to follow and recognize the NUG as the legitimate people’s government of Myanmar by inviting the NUG to the emergency summit and commit to working with the NUG on its mission to establish a federal union of Myanmar. This is the people’s will.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

Joint Letter from Community Organizations Calling for Action Regarding Burma to Support Ethnic Minorities and Prioritize Human Rights

By 229 ethnic organizations and over 19,000 individuals from US

Solidarity Message from 378 Myanmar CSOs to those protesting against Chevron in the USA

By 378 Myanmar CSOs

Burma’s Ethnic Community Organizations Call for President Biden’s Support Following Coup

By Burma’s Ethnic Community Organizations

CHRO Welcomes Formation of National Unity Government (NUG) of Burma/Myanmar

By Chin Human Rights Organization

Myanmar: CFWIJ condemns the state abduction of journalist Thin Thin Aung

By Coalition For Women In Journalism

Myanmar: CFWIJ condemns the abduction of Myo Myat Myat Pan by Myanmar police authorities

By Coalition For Women In Journalism

Burma Army Attacks Kill and Maim as over 24,000 People Are in Hiding in Northern Karen State

By Free Burma Rangers

One Villager Killed and Five Wounded as Burma Army Escalates Attacks in Northern Burma

By Free Burma Rangers

Multiple Fires Devastate Rohingya Refugee Camps

By Free Burma Rangers

Burma Army Wounds 11-year-old Girl, Kills Man, Wounds Five Others in Continued Attacks, With 24,000 Now Displaced in Northern Karen State

By Free Burma Rangers

Shangri-La financing crimes against humanity

By Justice For Myanmar

Adani Ports removed from Dow Jones Sustainability Index

By Justice For Myanmar, Australian Centre for International Justice and Market Forces

Justice For Myanmar and Korean civil society cautiously welcome POSCO C&C’s decision to end steel business with MEHL

By Justice For Myanmar and Korean Civil Society

ပြည်ထောင်စုလွှတ်တော်ကိုယ်စားပြုကော်မတီက အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ ဖွဲ့စည်းခြင်း အပေါ် သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By KNU Concerned Group

ပြည်ထောင်စုမြန်မာနိုင်ငံ အမျိုးသားညီညွှတ်ရေးအစိုးရ ဖွဲ့စည်းခြင်းအပေါ် KPICT အဖွဲ့၏ သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By Kachin Political Interim Coordination Team

Karenni State Consultative Council: Statement No. 1/2021

By Karenni State Consultative Council

ဖက်ဒရယ်ဖွဲ့စည်းပုံအခြေခံဥပဒေ (ဒုတိယမူကြမ်း) နှင့် ကြားကာလ ဖွဲ့စည်းပုံအခြေခံဥပဒေမူကြမ်းတို့အပေါ် အခြပြု၍ အမျိုးသားညီညွှတ်ရေး ဖက်ဒရယ်အစိုးရ ဖွဲ့စည်းသွားနိုင်ရန် CRPH သို့ ဝိုင်းဝန်းထောက်ခံတင်ပြကြေသာ အဖွဲ့အစည်းများအားလုံးကို အလေးအနက် အသိအမှတ်ပြုပါကြောင်း ထုတ်ပြန်ခြင်း

By Legal Aid Network

CRPH အနေဖြင့် စဥ်းစားဖော်ဆောင်နိုင်ရေးအတွက် အမျိုးသားညီညွှတ်ရေး အတိုင်ပင်ခံကောင်စီ ဖွဲ့စည်းမှု (မူကြမ်း) အား ဖက်ဒရယ်ဖွဲ့စည်းပုံအခြေခံဥပဒေ (ဒုတိယမူကြမ်း) နှင့် ကြားကာလ ဖွဲ့စည်းပုံအခြခံဥပဒေ နောက်ခံတို့ဖြင့် ဆက်စပ်၍ အကြံပြုချက်တင်သွင်းခြင်း

By Legal Aid Network

Nobel Women’s Initiative calls for the immediate release of Thin Thin Aung as violence and detentions continue unabated in Myanmar

By Nobel Women’s Initiative

Myanmar’s Neighbors Must Protect Those Seeking Refuge

By Refugees International

ပြည်ထောင်စုမြန်မာနိုင်ငံ အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရအား ထောက်ခံကြောင်း သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Rvwang Development Association, Kachin Alliance, Lisu National Organization

France’s Razel-Bec should follow EDF’s lead and end controversial dam project in Shan State

By Shan Human Rights Foundation

After Horror in Bago the United Nations Secretary General Must Act

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

Historic National Unity Government of Myanmar is the Legitimate Government

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

မိတ်ဖက်အဖွဲ့အစည်းများသို့ အသိပေးကြေငြာခြင်း

By Solidarity Trade Union of Myanmar

Ta’ang Political Consultative Committee – TPCC ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By Ta’ang Political Consultative Committee

NEWS RELEASE: Intensifying widespread, systematic slaughter by Myanmar military must be halted – Bachelet

By UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရအား ထောက်ခံဝန်းရံကြောင်း ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By Union Level Committee of CSOs Peace Forum

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”