Sunday, June 23, 2024

NUG: An Ethnic-Burman-dominated Body

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The forces opposing the Myanmar military junta are unlikely to become a unified entity. The National Unity Government (NUG) which is dominantly led by the Burman ethnic group tends to position itself as an exiled government representing the entire nation. On the other hand, Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations (EROs) do not fully cooperate with them but rather focus on establishing their own autonomous administrations within their respective regions.

The EROs not only fully engage with the NUG, but also fight among themselves. For instance, tensions between the Arakan and Rohingya communities remain highly volatile. Similar conflicts among other ethnic groups such as the Kachin versus the Tai Leng, Lisu, and Rawang communities continue to happen. Furthermore, significant tension persists between the Ta’ang and Kachin, Kokang and Shan, and Shan and Pa-Oh communities.

The primary root cause of these ethnic disputes may be traced back to the Burman-dominated leadership’s authoritarian interests, which have historically shown little regard for the human rights of other ethnic groups. This ideological system, which holds that only Burmans are capable of ruling the country, has resulted in widespread disenfranchisement and marginalization of other ethnicities. Therefore, this exclusionary mindset continues to fuel resentment and division among Myanmar’s diverse ethnic communities.

One of the most well-known divide-and-rule strategies is the use of religion, as shown in the cases of the Rohingya and Arakan. The exploitation of religious sentiments, of course, has deepened divisions and hindered national unity. As a result, Myanmar has become one of the world’s poorest and most dangerous nations, trapped in a cycle of violence and instability.

Of course, the NUG is engaged in this campaign. It has been accused of perpetuating misleading narratives. It has been accused of spreading false narratives. Recently, the NUG claimed that opposition organizations, including EROs and People’s Defense Forces (PDFs), controlled more than 60% of the nation. It also committed to remove the military junta by 2023. However, these statements have been widely contested and are seen as attempts to deceive the populace.

If the NUG’s assertions are correct, it implies control over more than 200 of Myanmar’s 330 townships. However, no public announcements of collaboration from major actors support this claim.

Thus, it can be argued that the NUG’s perspective is strikingly similar to that of the military junta, in which they claim that they are the only institutions capable of ruling and safeguarding Myanmar. This worldview, therefore, disregards the ambitions and rights of other ethnic nations, and of course, is unacceptable within Myanmar and to the international community.

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