Democratic activist Min Ko Naing, who has spent more than half of his 58 years fighting a military dictatorship in Myanmar, ran after a military coup on Feb. 1 aimed at toppling the elected government. led by Aung San Suu Kyi. A key student leader led the August 8, 1988 protest at Yangon University, spent 15 years in prison after being arrested in 1989, and formed the Generation Student Group. 88 to pursue democracy. Arrested again in 2007 for organizing peaceful protests in support of the Saffron Revolution led by monks, he was sentenced to 65 years in prison in 2008, but was granted mass parole in the year. 2012. Ko Naing and six others under section 505 (b) for inciting unrest against the state, he spoke to Khin Maung Soe of RFA’s Burma talks about the Representative Committee for Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a group of legislators elected from the overthrown National League for Democracy government, that has emerged as a “government. The country’s “shadow” to coordinate against the military regime has killed more than 700 people in 10 weeks of protests across the country.
RFA: I heard that you are currently working with the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Representative Committee (CRPH). Since you worked together with CRPH and what are you doing?
Min Ko Naing: We worked with the MPs before the coup. After the coup, we were determined to work together more closely. There were instances in which the military’s State Governing Council and its messengers were making up stories to make people distrust the CRPH. They are carrying out intentional attacks to damage the CRPH’s reputation. CRPH has been rejuvenated with members of the new generation. CRPH is operating under collective leadership and shared responsibility. It is different from organizations built on the reputation of a single leader. This collective leadership and responsibility have given us this strength and the ability to think broadly. I am very pleased with that. I believe we will see more concrete results soon. I want to ask people to have faith in them.
RFA: As the war against the coup has dragged on, people, especially the young, are becoming exhausted both physically and mentally. They are financially hungry and everyday they are wondering what to do next. Do you have any advice for them?
Min Ko Naing: I sympathize with them. I went through the same things over 30 years ago. The revolution we have pursued has faced a brutal crackdown. They shot and killed so many people that bodies were piled up in the streets. At that time, we felt that we were completely lost. Now, I see similar things happening with young people. They don’t even have 500 or 1000 kyats in their pocket, but they’re trying to keep things going. I have heard about all of them. As I said earlier, the CRPH should first unify a public administration. Then they should work on people’s security and then on their defense. They should go to areas where they can be safe. There are all forms of training available in these territories. These territories will become ‘free zones’ where they can continue their war against the army along with the ethnic minorities. Those who stayed in the cities would continue their war with guerrilla demonstrations. It is important to continue to show our resistance.
RFA: Currently, many young people are waiting to see the plan to form the federal army come true. What can you tell me about that?
Min Ko Naing: Since we are forming a federal alliance, the force we use must be the federal army force. How will we get there? We should take some steps. We don’t want that to take long. But we cannot skip the necessary steps. We must be fast and at the same time must meet certain standards. That is why these young people should travel to the safe zones that I mentioned and they should take part in training programs. I think you know what kind of training I am talking about. They need to join hands with the ethnic armed groups in these free regions. I cannot map a route to get to these safe areas on a map of Myanmar. They should check out what is the closest area in your area and decide how to get there on their own. In my experience, what we have learned about these places in the prisons is not very reliable because there are many crooks among the detainees. We know the cost is high because we want to see big changes. So I would like to reiterate that the federal military formation processes will not be lengthy, but we cannot skip the necessary steps.
RFA: The employees participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) are also doing their best. What do you think they should do next?
Min Ko Naing: Mostly, they need a guarantee of their future. I sympathize. Reassurance must be for both immediate and long-term needs. At least they need accommodation and food supplies. We are working to accommodate these needs as much as possible. The CRPH has dedicated committees to address these issues. In the long run, we need to know how long we should be with these CDM employees. It depends on the level of contributions made by domestic and foreign donors. In fact, the government bureaucracy is now dead and they cannot function anymore. That is why the military authorities are using both threats and incentives to disrupt the CDM movement. They lost and the CDM movement won. Currently, CRPH is assisting these employees. But our channels get blocked sometimes. We are using all available channels to support them. If these CDM workers no longer feel safe living in their home, they can go to one of these safe areas. People like Dr. Zaw Wai Soe or Dr. Win Myat Aye are helping them. We’re all working to make the changes by the end of April. Let’s look at the banks. Even if they are all reopened, they cannot function. People are withdrawing all the money they have in the bank.
RFA: How do you view international support for Myanmar?
Min Ko Naing: There are only two types of countries in the world: dictatorships and democracy advocates. Look at the allies that support democracy. Not just one or two countries are supporting the movement in Myanmar. Many countries are working together to support the fight for democracy in Myanmar. Now, there will be a hearing at the United Nations. Zin Mar Aung will attend to testify. The UK, one of the permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations, is hosting that meeting. They invited her to be the acting Secretary of CRPH. The members of the UNSC will hear the voice of the CRPH and they will pass it on to other members. This is very important. This means that UNSC members have recognized the legality of the CRPH. The meeting will pressure UNSC to take appropriate action. Democracy allies are trying to prove they have done everything they can. If they don’t succeed, they’ll use a different strategy. There are mechanisms like IIMM (Independent Investigation Mechanism for Myanmar). They asked for evidence from the public. I am told that they have recorded more than 270,000 pieces so far. They are storing the strongest evidence.
RFA: What can we expect from this movement in the coming days?
Min Ko Naing: In the next few days, we will announce the establishment of a National Unified Government (NUG). We have a common vision of eliminating this terrorist military council. All types of organizations will be included in this government. We are busy these days. We have negotiated with all groups at home and abroad. In addition to the widely known ethnic armed groups, we are recruiting civilian groups and prominent actors, etc.When it comes out you will see how strong it is and we get a lot of things. Support from allies around the world. We also plan to broadcast public television programs. We plan to disseminate information via SMS even when the internet connection is completely disconnected.
RFA: People are very concerned about the prospect of China influencing ASEAN to intervene in Myanmar. What do you think about this?
Min Ko Naing: Our people can clearly distinguish who are good friends and who are taking advantage of us. We can see what the United States is doing now. They have partnered with the Philippines, Malaysia and other countries to launch naval exercises. Dictators won’t have good days forever. They will also have bad days. There will be good days for the truth of democracy. We have seen the Army’s State Administration trying to take control of our UK embassy. This is an act of terror. Everything they have done is wrong. Besides, check out the press tour they arranged with CNN reporter. The world already knows more about their persecution. I strongly believe that the world will see the truth and people will prevail. In the meantime, we must be persistent and unbroken.
Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung for RFA’s Myanmar Service.