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Myanmar junta revokes citizenship of dissenters

Prominent opposition figures, including members of the national unity government in exile, have been stripped of citizenship

Myanmar junta revokes citizenship of dissenters

Protesters watch Dr. Sasa on a screen during a nighttime demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, on March 13, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 07, 2022 08:06 AM GMT

Updated: March 07, 2022 08:15 AM GMT

A prominent Christian politician is among at least 11 members of Myanmar’s shadow national unity government (NUG) whose citizenship has been revoked by the military junta.

Belonging to the ethnic Chin tribe from the predominantly Christian western region, Dr. Sasa has served as spokesperson of the shadow government made up of ousted lawmakers and ethnic groups and opposition activists.

Others stripped of their citizenship are Foreign Minister Zin Mar Aung, Human Rights Minister Aung Myo Min and Home Affairs Minister Lwin Ko Latt.

“The group had violated the existing laws of the state and … found to be committing acts that could harm the interests of Myanmar,” the junta announced in a notice in its mouthpiece, the Global New Light of Myanmar, on March 5.

A medical doctor-turned-politician, Dr. Sasa, who uses only one name, is in exile. He has been a prominent international face of the anti-coup resistance movement since the military coup in the Southeast Asian nation on Feb. 1, 2021.

“We are not interested in the announcement as the military junta is not the legitimate government and has no authority of revoking citizenship,” Dr. Sasa told Radio Free Asia Burmese Service.

The government in exile, however, has no control over the nation’s territory and is still struggling to be recognized as legitimate by foreign governments

He further said his citizenship was a “fundamental right” and “it can’t be revoked by the military junta.”

The NUG formed the shadow government in April 2021 as the legitimate one in the country.

The government in exile, however, has no control over the nation’s territory and is still struggling to be recognized as legitimate by foreign governments despite some parliaments having endorsed the NUG.

The junta has designated the NUG as a terrorist organization along with its armed wing, the People’s Defense Forces (PDFs), which are fighting junta troops across the country.

Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi was nominated as the head of the NUG but remains in detention facing a raft of charges that could send her behind bars for more than 150 years.

The junta move came even as political deadlock continued between the NUG and the military generals who are continuing their reign of terror against civilians and PDFs across villages, towns and cities with the killing of innocent civilians, arbitrary arrests, torture and burning of civilian homes.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, appointed as the special envoy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is scheduled to visit the conflict-torn country this month.

He has expressed his desire to meet with NUG members but the junta has said it is not possible to meet people facing lawsuits.

After more than five decades of military rule, Myanmar was set on the road to democracy but the political, economic and social freedoms that began to sprout in 2011 were abruptly ended by the 2021 military coup.

The ensuing clampdown on civilians and pro-democracy protesters has led to more than 1,500 deaths including many children. More than 12,000 people have been detained so far.

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