I am deeply humbled to have occasion and opportunity to express my most profound gratitude to the people and representatives of France. We have followed the discourse in the senate closely and we know now that our voices have been heard. We know that our suffering has not gone unnoticed. We know now that the world has seen our struggle against oppression and dictatorship and has judged our fight to be a righteous one. Such recognition and validation carry incalculable import and significance for our people. Through the unanimous support for La Résolution portant sur la nécessité de reconnaître le Gouvernement d’unité nationale de Birmanie, the Senate have cast their resounding vote of confidence in the NUG, in the Burmese people as they fight for their freedom, and in popular democratic movements the world over. We hope and pray that the Assemblée Nationale will follow suit.
The French people know only too well the ravages of war and authoritarianism. Much of French history is dedicated to the fight against despots and dictators, against those who oppress and exploit the people. A yearning for freedom, democracy, equality before the law, and natural justice are woven into the fabric of French identity. It is in the footsteps of the French model that countless nations have taken up the fight against their own oppressive regimes. The french enlightenment and age of reason gave safe haven to radical new ideas. An oasis of free thought in the desert of authoritarianism. French luminaries lit the way for many of the freedoms that people in the West take for granted today, and for which we in Myanmar are fighting now.
The objectives of the military have always been to establish a military dictatorship, where they are elevated to a noble class, reigning over the civilian serfs and peasants. The military’s vision for Myanmar is a form of medieval feudalism, where generals rule like kings with absolute authority and an iron fist. A country where only one religion and one language and one identity is permissible. Where the only tolerated political philosophy is unquestioning subservience to the military. For decades the Myanmar people have lived with these abuses and now there is a reckoning. But the war has taken a horrific toll on the people.
The military of Myanmar is a force of indescribable cruelty and evil. They think nothing of murder, or even of genocide. Children and babes lie dead at their feet by the scores. Unarmed protesters massacred for daring to speak out. Whole villages pillaged and razed to the ground. Refugees encircled and starved for months. To the military, the people of Myanmar are but property. Crimes against humanity are nothing more than the order of the day. So far this year over one thousand civilians have been killed. Twice as many are in hiding and over eight thousand have been illegally detained without trial. In the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, the military seized medical supplies at gun point and took over hospitals. The dead piled up faster than crematoria could handle so they resorted to throwing the bodies into trash incinerators to hide the full scale of their crimes. At this moment, in a nation of 54 million, half our population are facing food shortages, and within the coming months, food supplies are expected to run out in major urban centres. Make no mistake, to the military this is everything going to plan. The military wants only to rule, and they would rather rule a scorched wasteland of corpses and barren fields than cooperate to build a prosperous country. They will continue to seek out and exterminate any identity, any culture, any faith, any political ideology that does not conform to their own. This military is and always has been the very antithesis of the ideals championed by the French people and so desperately sought by the Myanmar people.
The Myanmar people people want only to live free, not as slaves. To know happiness, not fear of murder and destruction. To enjoy the protection of the government, not cower in terror when they approach. To preserve their own language, heritage, culture, religion, and identity, and not be forced to conform to a foreign identity subservient to their masters. To have a home in which they can raise their children and offer them a better life than they had, and not to see what little they have struggled to build over decades reduced to rubble and ash in moments.
For decades, again and again, our people have risen up against the military. So many times in our history, our streets have been lined with the bodies of our youth, the future of our nation, who bravely laid down their lives in the hope of liberating the country, if not for themselves, for their families, and for future generations. Never before has their heroic sacrifice earned its just reward. Never before have the people succeeded in quelling the brutal despotic military regime. Never before have the people of Myanmar set aside their differences and truly united to face down the common foe. Until now. For the first time in our nation’s history we have truly overcome the illusory barriers of identity which have divided us for so long. Division has been the military’s greatest weapon. But in unity, we are strong. Our diversity makes us great. With heads held high we can take pride in who we are and link arms with our compatriots knowing that our blood may be different, but our hearts beat as one. We are many nations, but we will take our future into our own hands as one country: Myanmar.
I take great pride and satisfaction in being part of the NUG, the first truly unified democratic government in the history of Myanmar. Free of military influence; a true unity between people of all nations, religions, and identities; and supported only by the will and confidence of the people whom they serve and now, also the confidence of freedom loving people in foreign lands. And for this, again, we offer our deepest thanks.
I want to make it clear that these are not mere words. Unity. Unity between people. Unity between nations. Unity between likeminded democratic governments is not just a rallying cry, it is the key to the global fight against dictatorship. If we stand together, not as the disparate countries of the world, but as one united global community, we can root out dictatorship wherever it may try to take hold. We must resolve to offer no shelter, no support, no safe harbour for autocrats anywhere on Earth.
I intend no exaggeration when I say that what we are faced with is the opportunity of a century. Never before have we come so close to truly liberating the people of Myanmar from dictatorship. Never before have been seen our path clear to building a genuine democratic state with true equality for all, and brotherhood between all our many and varied peoples. Victory, lasting peace and prosperity are within our grasp, but if we fail, I fear it may be an other century before we see this chance again, and for our long-suffering people, that is simply too long.
To that end, I must once again call on all free and democratic nations in the world to follow the French example and recognise the NUG in the name of democracy. Refuse to treat with or recognise the illegitimate murderous military regime. They are war criminals, and they do not and will never represent the will or interests of the Myanmar people. I thanked the Sénat of France for their gesture of support for the NUG, but this resolution is so much more. This is beyond mere politics, to the victims of authoritarianism, this resolution is life and death. The Sénat have struck a blow against dictatorship in Myanmar and everywhere in the world, now and for all time. The fight against authoritarianism is a global responsibility. If the international community bands together to squeeze out the dictators, the war will be over that same day. By rejecting the military, rejecting the cronies, rejecting the puppet politicians the people of France are sending a powerful message: return power to the people, to whom it rightfully belongs. I implore all free nations of the world to follow this shining example.
Furthermore, I must humbly request the assistance of all capable nations in addressing our growing humanitarian crisis. Even with the military defeated, it will take us months and years to rebuild, to guarantee shelter, food, medical care, and education to all our citizens. The economic, structural, and institutional
damage the military have done will certainly last longer than the coup. So again, I must humbly ask, on behalf of my people, for every assistance you are able to give us in rebuilding and protecting our homeland.
Finally, I must ask that the nations of the world resolve not only to reject the military politically, but to sanction them economically. The Myanmar military is insidious. They control a vast network of holding corporations, shell corporations, and investment portfolios. Through their economic arms they control much of Myanmar’s economy and enterprises. Through their international connections they launder and hide their money off-shore. The existing sanctions are not enough. The governments of the world must resolve to cut off all financial ties to any person, agency, or company financially involved with the military. Governments must compel their citizens and domestically registered companies to do the same. All aid, investment, and business into Myanmar must come under the closest scrutiny. While the military is able to secure funds, they will use those funds to kill as many of our people as possible. However, if the international community cuts off all support for the military, the architects of our nation’s greatest humanitarian crisis will have nowhere to go and no-one to turn to. They will have no choice but to stand down, and return power to the people. This is the fastest and least destructive path to victory.
Once again, I express on behalf of the people of Myanmar, our deepest gratitude to the people of France for their support. The people of Myanmar will always remember that in our darkest hour, the people of France stood by them, and stood by democracy. And when our war is over, Myanmar will stand shoulder to shoulder with France and the freedom-loving democracies of the world in the ongoing fight against dictatorship.
H.E. Dr. Sasa
Union Minister of Ministry of International Cooperation
Spoke Person of Nation Unity Government
Former Special Envoy to United Nations