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[취재파일/영어 전문] Interview with Myanmar Prime Minister of NUG

[취재파일/영어 전문] Interview with Myanmar Prime Minister of NUG

김혜영 기자 khy@sbs.co.kr

작성 2021.05.03 00:02 수정 2021.05.03 14:39 조회수
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기사 대표 이미지:[취재파일/영어 전문] Interview with Myanmar Prime Minister of NUG
SBS had its first exclusive interview with the Prime Minister, Manhn Win Khaing Than from the National Unity Goverment founded two weeks ago against the military coup. Prime Minister Mahn Winn Khaing Thann, hiding from the military's surveillance, strongly condemned of illegal military actions such as relentless airstrikes, in the virtual Interview with SBS held on April 30. He also strongly stated that the National Unity Government which he is leading is the only legitimate government in Myanmar and shared the plan about the Federal Army to fight against the military.

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[Reporter ]
Hello. This is Kim Hye Young from SBS. Before we start the interview, we send our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who have died from military actions of Myanmar military group. We sincerely hope for a ‘democratic spring’ to come in Myanmar. And thank you again for accepting this interview under a difficult situation.

Let's start the interview, Can you first introduce NUG?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
Before we explained about NUG, I should say when the democratically elected members of the country's ruling party were going to start for the government officials after winning the election, the military began a coup d'etat in the morning of 1st Feb 2021.
Almost every Myanmar citizen from all over the country has voted for the elected leaders who strongly condemned this unfair and unlawful action of the military. Since it is a threat to Myanmar's democracy, it has resulted in protests against the military. As democratically elected leaders, we cooperated with the citizens to fight against this military coup d'etat.

We, as the democratically elected leaders, have founded the CRPH, which is the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, to represent the official government. With CRPH leadership, we decided to abolish the 2008 Constitution, which can be a barrier to building up the federal democracy union for Myanmar. CRPH has contacted different groups such as ethnic armed groups, social worker groups and the strike protests groups from all layers and levels and came up with the Charter to build up the Federal Democracy Union in the future.

While working on that, CRPH has bestowed the temporary minister positions and appointed me to the temporary second president position. After the CRPH has acquired the authority, the respective position leaders contacted the international organizations and representatives from different ethnic groups. After the establishment of the Federal Democracy Charter, different ethnic leaders have been selected to make an agreement with different ethnic armed groups and that was how Nation Unity Government was formed.

[Reporter ]
I assume it's difficult to disclose where you are. However, are you in a safe and secure place?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
I can assume that this would be a safe place as it was given by the person in charge. I am not sure if it is safe or not. People who help me are taking care of me.

[Reporter ]
The Myanmar army continues air strike and attack, what would you say the current situation in Myanmar is like?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
As you know, the United Nations has called for stopping the cruel crimes, such as killing citizens, against peace and called for the release of all detained people. However, the military has remained unmoved. ASEAN also has been involved in helping to solve the problems. ASEAN chairman's statement came up with a five-point consensus to stop the ongoing human rights violations. Following the statement, young people have vowed to step up and take action against the junta again with the upliftment of security forces. However sudden detainments at night and breaking homes by throwing stones have continued to happen despite the pledge. Further violations occurred not only in the urban areas, but also in the rural areas. In addition to that, consecutive terrible scenarios happened. For example, on April 27th, one person riding a motorcycle in Titain city was shot and killed by the military, and on the 28th, a group of young people in Mandalay city were shot at by the military and one killed, based on official news reports. On the 29th of April, in the Ayeyarwaddy division, Phyarpone city, there was a sudden attack on one of the villages, which resulted in the killing of one person and abduction of three people. In Chaungsone city, a car purposely crashed into motorcycle riders and immediately killed two people. As they have mentioned in ASEAN meeting, there is no military or security force. They might say they reduce the terrorization by weapons, but there are still situations where protesters are being killed by the junta, this time with riding normal unmarked cars, not with military vehicles. As you mentioned before, when the civil war happened between the military and the ethnic groups, the military's airstrike was conducted not only in locations of armed groups but also in ethnic villages which are 9-10 miles away from the armed groups. In other words, this can be regarded as genocide. If the insurgency happens by an armed group, the military should only attack the armed group, not  the innocent civilians. However, their airstrikes harmed unrelated villages, especially in the Kayin State. People have been forced to flee from home. The problem is that Thailand also does not accept these people as refugees, which means they have to suffer in the jungle. When you look at this situation, you can clearly see that no matter how many promises the military group makes, it obviously will not keep the promises. Under the ASEAN five-point consensus, the Special Envoy from ASEAN should be allowed to come into Myanmar. However, after coming back to the country from the meeting, the military group said special envoy can enter only after the country is stabilized and peace and tranquility are restored. This directly means the junta opposes the ASEAN five-point consensus since it is the junta that is responsible for restoring peace. If they stop the violence, the country can attain peace and stability. If not, there is no way we can attain peace. So, I would like to say if they purposely deny the special envoy to enter the country, it won't ever happen.

[Reporter ]
As you said, Myanmar military group continues air strikes in ethnic communities and even when they say they're not using armed weapons, people are being assaulted and detained all across Myanmar. One of the 5 point consensus, announced in the ASEAN summit held on 24th April, was an immediate end of violence. However, the military group seems to ignore the agreement and repeats violent actions. In the meanwhile, NUG requested unconditional release of political prisoners before any constructive dialogue. There are concerns ASEAN consensus would not succeed in the end. Prime minister, is the agreement still effective?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
To be honest, there have been no specific actions against it, so it is hard to say it is broken. But one thing, the junta still haven't complied since then and ASEAN countries cannot do anything about that. So rather than saying it is broken, as you asked whether it still comes to life, I would say it is still in between its life and death. It can be said that the agreement is still "alive" but it cannot do anything. In Burmese, this would be called "Athet ngin" which is the equivalent of "dying" but between life and death.

[Reporter ]
Did you have the opportunity to communicate with Aung San Suu kyi through the defense counsel? Can you share her health condition? Did she send any message regarding the Myanmar situation?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
We cannot say exactly since we don't know what exactly is going on. Recently, we heard that Aung San Suu Kyi has requested to meet with her lawyers online and from what we heard from her lawyers, she seems healthy but slimmer. As I have mentioned before, we are trying to stay in a safe place. But when there is an internet connection problem, we cannot even meet. So there is no chance to really get updates since we cannot let anyone know where we are staying. Only there is the news sharing between the current people working together since this is not a situation to get special updates and news from other people. At our safe house, we tried hard to get electricity, so only there is news sharing between colleagues.

[Reporter ]
Myanmar faces triple challenges, from a democratic crisis, Covid-19 suffering to critical economic situation. On 22th April, The United Nations World Food Programme(WFP) estimated that up to 3.4 million more people will face hunger within the next 6 months. What are the actual supports that Myanmar need, right now, at this moment?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
The possible support should go to some government officers who are doing civil disobedience movement for their livings and also the refugees who are struggling after running away from home due to civil war because they need more help. Some people want to help the refugees but they can’t because the Thailand side has been closed. It is important that Thailand government allow them to help the refugees. Most important is to restore the country’s situation better, peaceful and stabilizing again. In order to improve the situation, it is only possible when the military coup falls apart. Only after that, we can try to focus on the other things better.

[Reporter ]
A NUG secretary has recently said that some western and middle east countries are preparing to announce support for NUG. Can you name the countries that recognized NUG as an official government?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
By now the new government has only been formed for 14 days. During the 14 days, there are some delays and hindrances since everything is online. So to get international recognition, it can take longer. Within 1-2 days, we will request for official recognition. Currently, there is no acknowledgment yet. But there are some meetings with the ambassadors from many countries. According to what they have said, most of them are willing to work together even though there is no official acknowledgement yet.

[Reporter ]
Is Korea one of those countries also? Have you requested Korea to recognize NUG as an official government?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
Within 1 or 2 days, we are going to send statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not only to South Korea but also to most other countries. Seeing many citizens in Korea, from the parliament members to the students, are supporting us by protesting, we could say the whole country is supporting us. That is why I would like to show my gratitude to all the Korean people and the government.

만 윈 카잉 딴 총리
[Reporter ]
You've just said ‘in a few days’. Can I understand this as that NUG Foreign Ministry will deliver an official statement to Korean government by the first week of May?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
Yes, you can understand it like this. We are preparing now to send the statement.

[Reporter ]
You have said few minutes ago that Myanmar needs international support to defeat the military group. What would be the actual solution, and what efforts have NUG made?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
Not only over fifty million citizens but also the international community, including the United Nations have strongly condemned the military coup, which really has nothing to do with the government itself and our party. In order to call for the fall of the military government, we tried to rely on the United Nations and the Security Council but it didn't work. While they mentioned that ‘they were seizing the matter’, dozens of people have been killed. The statements from the democratic countries that they watch the fall of military dictator for restoration of Democracy are nothing but words, and they are not helpful in the point of our civilian's view. So it the time for self-reliance. On the other side, there are some countries unknowingly helping the junta. But on our side, the citizens feel words are the only assistance. So what we have is the power of our people. Fifty million people have to fight together in this battle against the junta. We will form a strong government. We will form the defense forces for security. And then there will be the formation of the People Defense Force. For these, we are now joining the ethnic armed group to learn and negotiate with them to bring the fall of the military government as soon as possible. We clearly want to state that we need the strength from the democratic countries, but if not, we only have our own people. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has said before our people are the main. We will progress and we have to use the strength of our people to make it happen.

[Reporter ]
The coalition of ethnic armed organizations in Myanmar has started talks for unity. Many people hope that this movement will shortly lead to an establishment of union army to stand up to the military group. When do you think this will happen?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
The Federal Army is the hope for all our citizens including all ethnicities. It also should happen as well. Where there is only one military who is armed, the military will always try to stage a coup d'etat and seize power. If there is a federal army with all ethnicities that comes together, the coup will be impossible since each division will have its own governance system. We are aiming for that. Currently, we are also trying to negotiate and if we need to fight, we are going to join the ethnic armed groups. After we succeed in the revolution, the armed group and our People Defense Force will negotiate together to emerge the Federal Army. It is hard to predict when it will happen. Another problem that we have is the financial situation. To make the Federal Army emerge, we need much more financial resources, and we are planning for that too. We are aiming to get funding upon that. In order to form the People Defense Force, we need armament which we will need more money for. Likewise, if we can get support from one country, that could make the process faster.

[Reporter ]
Korea has been participating in the international restriction towards the military group, such as prohibiting military supply export to Myanmar. Koreans recall the memory of past pro-democracy movement under the dictatorial government. And many NGOs, Religious and academic groups are supporting and funding for Myanmar democracy. Would you like to send any message to the Korean government and people?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
I have a lot to talk about Korea. Our people are cruelly shot to death and suffering from  breaking into a private house at night. They shot a daughter in the father's arm, and robbed silver jewelry. This is where we are going through. In the situation where we can't even have a comfortable night, enthusiastic support starting from children, parliament members, your people and the local administration is also a great help to all the protesters here and to our government. So I'd like to thank you very much. And I'd like to ask you to continue supporting us in the future. We want the Korean government also to recognize and support us.

[Reporter ]
I'd like to ask you 2 questions more.
First, Has the United States government recognized NUG as an official government or sent supporting message?
Secondly, there are many reports that the Thailand prime minister is close to General Hlaing. Also China and Russia are not providing support to derive an effective solution from UN Security council. Do you have any words for the leaders of Thailand, China and Russia?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
One thing we want is to get respect and protect the voices of our people in our country. The Military Commission asserts the regime has been legally transferred. But how is it legal to take power after arresting and prosecuting the president and state councilor? The regime was not handed over, but it was taken away. About 50 million people are not satisfied about taking over power and are now protesting. This is the will of the people. This is the situation. Which should be supported? The will of this people? Or the will of the minority of the Armed Services Committee?  We got to know each other while discussing it here. He(Hlaing) insisted  without any justification that the voter list was negative. 

The Commander General ends his term in July this year. They had a discussion with Aung San Suu Kyi, and also with Major General Yar Pyae, Major General Soe Htut, Major General Than Htay, and on the other side with U Kyaw Tint Shwe and U Myint Lwin. He asked for an extension of the term for the next five years. And Daw Aung San Suu Kyi refused to accept it. When she refused to accept, he asked for the president's seat. This is not something I heard in person directly. I would say it is possible. This information has been passed to us. But I won't mention who said it here. There was a report that he was angry and exploded because it is not allowed. Rumors have already been spread outside. So in a straightforward way, he staged a coup because he couldn't be the president.
So what we need to know is whether to support the people's will or a person who took power in a coup only because he couldn't be a president. I want to say something to the countries I mentioned earlier that 'please put yourselves in the shoes of our people not to that small group of people'. To put it bluntly, I understand that the military has been able to last this long because of the support of those countries. Our government receives only a small amount of support when the military getting substantial support from those. I've already told you. From what I see and know, the words and actions are different. So what I want to say to those countries is to look at our people. Now people all over the world know it. I want you to know the spirit of the people in Myanmar who are without weapons, risking their lives and resisting those who are holding weapons. That shows how much we resent the military and it is visible.

No one has the courage to go to the place knowing that they are going to die. But being angry and upset, knowing they could die, they go. Some young men even left wills. One young man told his parents, "Don't expect me to come back." It is clearly revealed how much the people do not want the military. Those countries need to know. It seems to me that this is very unfair if those countries are supporting the military for the benefit of their own country. And I think it's an act of ignoring the will of our people in Myanmar. So what I want to say is to respect the will of our people in Myanmar. As you've all seen when the internet conditions and the media environment were good, they were really shooting. The weapon is not to be used against protesting people. The fact that all the people are still risking their lives even the military use weapons which should be used in the battlefield clearly shows how much the people do not want the military. There should be a deep respect for those who have passed. The military cannot do anything without those countries' support. Civil officers are now participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). The military is in a very difficult situation. The governance system is not working. It needs funding. If those countries continue to support the military, they continue to survive.

As you know, we have been downgraded from one of the wealthiest Southeast Asian countries to the poorest since the military has governed after a coup in 1962. It is all because of them. Our people are trying to rip out the military now. We will still have to suffer until the root is completely removed. So what I want to say to those countries is to respect the will of our people and protect us. Yes, that's all I want to say.

[Reporter ]
Is it correct to understand that the United States Government has not expressed support even under the table?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
I don't know how the government of the United States sees this situation. However, I heard that the U.S. President Joe Biden and the Secretary of the States said that they strongly condemned the regression of democracy. That word gave our people strength. However, nothing has come in reality, so the people now feel that the only expectation is our own people. As I said earlier. I don't know what they think. What I heard is what I said earlier. They do not want to regress democracy and cannot accept destruction. They also talk with the Secretary-General of the United Nations about restoring democracy, and that's what they have to say. These are the words we heard, "We can't take power by force, we can't let it go like this." We are just hearing the words so we don't know what they really think.

Our Minister of Foreign Affairs has met the first secretary from the Department  of the State who is in charge of this issue. It may be the ambassador of Southeast Asia and our Ministry is continuing to make efforts. I have not been able to meet the Minister because of the poor internet connection since we can't attend the meeting. It's been a long time. That's the situation.

[Reporter ]
I'd like to ask you this question again. Why do you think the international community should recognize NUG as an official government, instead of the military group?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
That's the Ministry of Foreign Affairs's responsibility. As I have mentioned, the Minister and we cannot discuss when the internet is not in good condition. It's been three or four days since I haven't met him at the meeting. I know that they will plan it. I don't know how they would plan it because we are not in contact yet.

The present government is a CRRH which is established with parliament members elected by our people's overwhelming vote. The government is formed by the parliament officially mandated by our people. So we are legal because we have gained the mandate of our people. And the military group took power by weapons. There is no public support. Also, in a democratic country, the power is given by the people. The people do not want to give power to the military, so they are fighting against this. In this sense it is the junta which is not legal. Then we are a government formed by the Committee of Representatives (CRPH), which consists of members of the Parliament members who are representing our people. So it is a legitimate government composed by the will of the people. You can see how everyone is fighting against this. Since they took power by force, they can't be legal in any way. So our government is the only legitimate government.

[Reporter ]
Do you have any last comments you want to make?

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
In addition to that I am very happy to see the people of Korea enthusiastically supporting us eternally. Thank you so much for that. Another is that our government is a legitimate government formed by parliament members elected democratically by our people, and we request you to continue recognizing us as the only government in Myanmar in the future as well.

[Reporter ]
Prime minister, thank you for the interview with SBS. I am among those who support democracy of Myanmar and hope spring comes soon. I hope you take care.

[Mahn Winn Khaing Thann / Prime Minister of NUG ]
Thank you so much. I would like to thank you for organizing the interview in order to let the world know the current state of our government. I wish for the endless development and wealth of Korea.

[Reporter ]
Thank you very much.
 

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