Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen and thank you for having me. I would also like to begin by thanking you all for their support of the Myanmar people as they struggle for freedom, inclusive federal democracy, and human rights. In particular I would like to thank New Zealand for being among the first countries, to place sanctions on the murderous military regime, and formally refuse to recognize their legitimacy or authority. Actions such as these are vital to maintaining democracy and liberty, not only in Myanmar, but the world over. Myanmar democracy is young, her enemies and detractors are numerous and, as the coup in February shows, they are bold and confident that they can overthrow her. But they are wrong, and the international community is rallying to show the military just how wrong they are. Attacks on democracy and on freedom-loving peaceful civilians cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. The sanctions against the military have slowed the military’s advance. they have squeezed the military of the funds they desperately need to buy new weapons of death and destruction which they hope will break the will of the Myanmar people. It has also robbed the military generals of their personal luxury. This international intervention has sown discord and agitation among the military high command and sent a strong message to any would-be dictators around the world.
Unfortunately, for all this support, the military’s reign of terror continues. By now, you all know that well over one thousand men women and children have been murdered by the military. You know that thousands are languishing in over-crowded prisons without charge, trial or due process. You will have seen the evidence of the crimes against humanity, the atrocities, the torture, the destruction, the looting, the war crimes. But these are nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands slowly dying of COVID-19 while the military steals what little medical supplies the people have. Nothing compared to the millions suffering acute food shortages and the millions more who will join them before the end of this year. The international community and the NUG are working to destabilize the military’s stranglehold on the country and the military knows this. The military junta has responded by lashing out; desperately redoubling their cruelty and murderous efforts. Ramping up suppression and terrorist activities. The Myanmar people have seen this all too often in the past.
More must be done to bring this crisis to an end as quickly as possible. Empty words without actions do nothing but buy the military time to launch further attacks and murder more people. Every day that passes brings with it more needless death and destruction. The people of Myanmar are being forced into “Self Defense” from this grotesque assault on their rights, dignity, and lives. In desperation, the people are doing anything and everything they can to survive against a trained and ruthless military. We are doing everything we can to save and protect the lives of the people of Myanmar from the triple-crisis of the genocidal junta’s acts of terrorism, the raging COVID crisis, and the humanitarian catastrophe. We are great in need of support and solidarity, recognition and cooperation from International community. Therefore, we once again call on all our international partners and allies to recognize the NUG as the sole legitimate government of Myanmar. To reject the military and their puppet regime. To sanction the military, the officers of the high command, and businesses affiliated with them. To not offer aid, trade, or investment through the military or agencies they control as they will certainly seize any money or goods for themselves.
Regarding ASEAN’s 5-point Consensus on Myanmar
While we are deeply grateful to ASEAN for all their efforts to help bring this conflict to an end, and we applaud the principles espoused in the five-point consensus, we must note that to be effective, any resolution and consensus must contain a timetable, and mechanisms of enforcement, punishment for those
who violate its terms. To date, the five-point consensus has not resulted in any effect on the ground but has bought the junta time to regroup and strike back with renewed force once the consensus and negotiations fail. At this point compromising with the military is not an option because their history proves that they would not honour the terms of a compromise even if one were offered. The only discussion we can entertain having is when and how the military will cease all further violence, release all political prisoners, stand down, and return power to the people of Myanmar. Any other interaction is a waste of time, designed only to win the military sorely needed time and help legitimize them on the world stage. Let us be clear, ASEAN must recognize the NUG as the sole legitimate government of Myanmar. Failing to do so brings tacit legitimacy to the military and serves only to improve the military’s chances of re-establishing another brutal military dictatorship in Myanmar. Let me remind everyone, the military are aggressively isolationist and egotistical. They cannot be trusted to honour diplomatic agreements or trade agreements. A military dictatorship would render Myanmar closed to scrutiny, closed to business, and closed to partnership. I therefore urge ASEAN and the international community not only to deal in words but clear, impactful courses of action which can be enforced and monitored.
Regarding the ASEAN Special envoy’s role and the role of the UN Special envoy to Myanmar
We have made it clear that we not only welcome them but we are open and ready to engage with all concerned delegates on behalf of the people of Myanmar. We want to see ASEAN Special Envoys and UN Special Envoys, Observers, Investigators, Representativse, and Special Rapporteurs visit Myanmar to witness first-hand the horrors the military have wrought upon the people. We want to see them engage with all the stakeholders inclusively. We know that an impartial examination of all the facts will prove beyond any doubt that the NUG is legitimate, democratically supported, and working for the people, to manifest the will of the people. The military, by contrast, have committed crimes against innocent unarmed civilian populations. We thank all the envoys who have been appointed thus far, and invite any future envoys to join them, but we must ask them to act quickly to collect and present the evidence to the due authorities. It is essential that the facts of the military’s reign of terror be made known to the international community so that they fully understand the true scale of this triple-crisis and take immediate action to curb the military’s depravity.
Regarding targeted and coordinated sanctions against the military, their cronies, and allies
Since the 1970’s the Tatamadaw (the military of Myanmar) have applied a 4 cuts policy against the people of Myanmar with devastating consequences. For many years, this policy of cutting food, funds, information and recruitment through every means possible, has been the cornerstone of their divide and rule strategy. This has been documented to lead to widespread atrocities and an escalation of human rights violations including forced relocations, burning of villages, extrajudicial executions, rape and torture. In recent months, some in the international community have tried to stand alongside the people of Myanmar. But not enough has been done. Isolated actions have brought little change. The international community has failed to work together and has stood by as our people have been massacred by the army that is meant to protect them.
As the country descends into economic collapse, standing alone against the genocidal military, there is still time for an international response.
Today we are calling for on the International Community to strike back at the junta with the same 4-cuts policy: cut off their finances, cut off aid, cut off recognition, and cut off support.
1. Cut off FINANCES to the military through maximum economic and political isolation.
Sanctions have already greatly restricted the military’s ability to operate, to acquire new arms, and to live the lavish lifestyles to which they are accustomed. However, these are not sufficient. Currently there are inconsistencies in different countries’ strategies and many others have taken no action; but the rest of the world can and should step in to complement the NUG’s strategy to use economic pressure as one essential lever in delivering political change. Stronger sanctions targeted against the junta and related crony entities will restrict the flow of money to the military and raise the costs for those international actors who continue to
support the Tatmadaw and enable their access to global markets. Besides their slush funds of laundered money, the military continue to draw passive income from their many legitimate and illegitimate businesses both domestically and abroad.
The most valuable strategy is stopping the flow of natural gas revenue to military-controlled institutions, as this remains the military’s last major source of foreign currency. Furthermore, sanctions must be targeted through the SWIFT network, which facilitates financing arrangements for military owned banks. These sanctions must extend to prohibiting any domestically registered company from dealing with or offering services to the military, any of its members, or any enterprises they own or operate. Given the convoluted and shadowy network of businesses through which the military funnel, launder, and hide their funds, this is a large task, but once their access to funds is cut off, their allies will desert them, they will be unable to operate, and the crisis will end and without further bloodshed.
To be most effective, economic pressure must be immediate and proactive, rather than incremental and reactive. The people of Myanmar have made immense economic sacrifice in their protests and boycotts—actions which have stopped the military from consolidating their control—and the international community must step off the side-lines and make this pressure maximally effective.
2. Cut off SUPPLIES to the military by depriving them of the jet fuel, weapons, ammunition, mines, and mortars through which they commit gross human rights violations.
The junta are believed to be acquiring new armaments from Russia and other countries. The international community must cut off any supplies which benefit the military through a mandatory global arms embargo – it is shameful that this has not already been achieved. This includes countries ensuring that no company in their jurisdiction facilitates the shipment of jet fuel to Myanmar. The supply of jet fuel has no value to the people in the country’s present circumstances; it only enables the military to continue its bombing campaign against civilian populations throughout the country.
3. Cut off POLITICAL RECOGNITION for the military junta/SAC, by recognising the legitimacy AND resourcing the National Unity Government-NUG and other partner organizations that are working toward federal democracy in Myanmar.
Despite the challenges we face, we ask again that the International Community recognise the legitimacy of the NUG and our allies. It is evident from our mandate and policies that the NUG has clear humanitarian aims. We are, in fact, more capable of delivering for the people than the military; even with the present security situation, it is the SAC (military council) that has destroyed the state and left the people fearful and unwilling to engage with the government to access urgently needed assistance. Despite the fact that we are scattered and under resourced, the NUG is providing leadership to our people in ways which the SAC will never be able to achieve. The international community can help by recognising our struggle and deepening our legitimacy. This can take many forms such as Outspoken support for our Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun and NUG at the UNGA as well as funding projects that help the NUG to provide COVID vaccines, Food, Shelter, Medicine and Remote Education for the people of Myanmar.
4. Cut off INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT that benefits the military and SAC-controlled institutions; instead, deliver urgently needed assistance through mechanisms that strengthen civil society and actually deliver for the people. In so doing, the rest of the world can help to strengthen the growing unity of vision and purpose across our country’s diversity.
As has been noted by my colleague Chris Sidoti “Any humanitarian relief through the junta is likely to be affected by corruption, that is, siphoned off by military personnel, and weaponised as part of the struggle against the people of Myanmar.” The international community should act “with urgency” to provide emergency relief to the people of Myanmar. The “only effective way” to do so would be by working with the NUG, ethnic organisations, and members of the civil society resistance organisations supported by the Myanmar public. The people of Myanmar are working hard to overcome past divisions that have been sown
by the sustained rule of a ruthless military regime; by directing more international assistance to alternative authorities, and keeping it out of military hands, the international community can help to support trust-building and cooperation amongst the resistance as it continues to come together, to imagine a new Myanmar and to provide for the people as they continue with their courageous resistance.
Regarding the ICC and ICJ cases against the military junta and justice for Myanmar
The NUG is the first government to recognize the Rome Statute. It is our intention that following the end of the crisis, a full investigation be carried out into the coup and subsequent violence. We invite impartial international investigators and observers to gather and present evidence. We will cooperate fully with the ICC and ICJ should cases be brought in either.
Our commitment to justice is unshakable, all actors in Myanmar will be held accountable for their actions according to domestic and international law. We have declared our acceptance of international jurisdiction of the ICC. We will accept the courts’ decisions whatever they may be, and will prosecute wrong doers, on both sides, subject to the respective civil, criminal, and military codes of justice as relevant.
The Rohingya crisis in Rakhine state is still before the ICJ. We have made it clear that we will fully cooperate with ICJ and respect the court’s verdict, whatever it may be. However, I am not an international lawyer, nor am I familiar with the details of this case. I would not dare to speak for the court before its verdict is handed down, and I would not disrespect the experiences and testimonies of the witnesses by conjecturing here today as to what the court may or may not find.
Regarding the NUG transition to the path of inclusive federal democracy, peace, and stability
Fortunately, the nation already has a functioning government in the form of the NUG. A federal democratic charter has already been drafted which will move Myanmar towards a permanent constitution based on inclusive federal democratic values and that will build the nation into a progressive and inclusive federal democracy for ALL the people of Myanmar. The civil service continues to operate, and we fully expect those civil servants who resigned in disgust or participated in the CDM to return to work and continue the task of running the nation under an inclusive federal democratic civilian Government. As far as administration is concerned, we anticipate one of the smoothest transitions in Myanmar’s history. The true challenge will be meeting the acute needs of the people in a country ravaged by war and disease. Due to the devastation brought by the military, our tasks in the short term are clear: We will focus on food aid to the millions facing food shortages, we will return displaced persons to their homes if possible, and elsewhere we will provide temporary shelter while permanent housing is constructed. We will finally implement the COVID 19 vaccine roll out which we had planned before the coup and which we have been working tirelessly to continue even under the current circumstances. The task of rebuilding will be monumental, and we will need the help of our international partners to help pick up the pieces and return millions of people to a semblance of normality and stability. The international community should place more and tougher sanctions on the military, their personnel, and their related businesses. Furthermore, foreign powers should declare unequivocally that the NUG is the sole legitimate government, and deal only through the NUG in matters of diplomacy, trade, investment, and aid, and likewise should pressure other nations to do the same. The day world leaders and the international community take the above actions is the beginning of the end of this genocidal military reign of terror and on that day, Myanmar begins a new chapter of freedom, inclusive federal democracy, peace, prosperity, and stability.
H.E. Dr. Sasa
Union Minister of Ministry of International Cooperation
Spoke Person of Nation Unity Government
Former Special Envoy to United Nations