Starting from its formation in April 2021, two and a half months after the coup, the National Unity Government (NUG) has taken the role of the civilian-led, legitimate government of millions of Myanmar people. Approaching the third year of its leadership, the NUG has received both praise and criticism over its efforts in uniting ethnic groups, advocating on the international stage, and providing support for the CDM, armed resistance, and displaced people. We have always wanted to hear from the side of the NUG ministers on how they cope with the people’s expectation and their honest opinions about where the resistance is heading. As luck would have it, we managed to get ahold of the NUG’s foreign minister this month. In this interview, Daw Zin Mar Aung talks about the NUG’s accomplishments on the international front, how individuals can support Myanmar, and a glimpse into the near future.
MM: It has been two years since the military coup was staged, and the formation of NUG turns two years in April. What are you most proud of in terms of NUG’s accomplishments in foreign affairs?
ZMA: In terms of NUG’s accomplishments in foreign affairs, despite the limited human resources and difficulty of being able to travel, there is a certain degree of satisfaction such as being able to appoint some representatives for example in Europe and Asia regions, communicating directly in countries where we could not appoint representatives, our representatives having contributed effectively to support the NUG’s Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment (MOPFI) fundraising efforts and in politics especially with the ASEAN not allowing the SAC to represent Myanmar in Summits, Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun’s continued representation in the UN and UN Resolution regarding Myanmar reached among UN Security Council members.
MM: Where is the NUG in terms of being recognized by the international community? The ASEAN is still holding onto the five-point consensus. Do you think Indonesia chairing the ASEAN this year would have a positive impact on recognizing the NUG from our neighbors?
ZMA: Regarding international recognition, it depends on the kind of recognition. In terms of diplomatic relations and engagement, we have progressed where there is an understanding and acceptance that they [foreign governments] must engage with the NUG when it comes to Myanmar issues. Regarding the ASEAN where Indonesia will hold the chairmanship, the new leadership strengthens the situation where they need to make more efforts and engage.
MM: We understand China has been playing both sides in this resistance. What is the biggest help we can expect from the Beijing government this year?
ZMA: As for China, it should be seen as taking a unique position in the last resolution (UNSC – 2669) at the UN Security Council. It is crucial to understand and sympathize with the suffering of the neighbors, Myanmar people, and Myanmar’s political situation. We hope that China will also be able to accept that the people’s power needs to be returned to the hands of the people.
MM: Since most of our readers are from abroad, we are often asked how our supporters (individuals) from foreign countries can help Myanmar. How can they help us in your opinion?
ZMA: As individuals, I think there are two ways they can help our revolution and the people of Myanmar. Firstly, they can help by writing and calling on their governments and parliaments in respective (democratic) countries, organizing and mobilizing public rallies, getting local news media to cover Myanmar, and talking about the situations inside Myanmar. Secondly, I would request them to contribute to the revolutionary fundraising, help in fundraising activities, or carry out social punishment against officials from Myanmar embassies who are loyal to the military junta.
MM: The public, both inside and outside of Myanmar has shown support for the NUG throughout, but at the same time, the expectation they put on the NUG is extremely high. What do you want to say, as a NUG minister, to the citizens who struggle to remain resilient in this situation?
ZMA: The fact that the public has high expectations shows the possibility of the success of this revolution. Our people have endured resiliently in a very difficult and harsh situation for two years and they have proved their resilience. Thanks to these people who are full of bravery and courage, the NUG has been able to carry on the revolutionary mission until now. Therefore, it is essential for people never to underestimate their role and strength. The capital sacrificed in this revolution is proof of how much freedom, justice, and democracy are worth. I would like to encourage the public to look forward to the new nation we will be building together – like a jewel of immeasurable worth, for all of us and stay strong!