The acting head of the parallel civilian government says it is “the nation’s darkest moment” as several protesters are killed.
The acting head of Myanmar’s parallel civilian government, appointed by lawmakers who were ousted following an army takeover in February, has vowed to continue a “revolution” to overthrow the military government.
Mahn Win Khaing Than, who is in hiding with most of the top officials of the ruling National League for Democracy party, addressed the public for the first time on Saturday via Facebook.
“This is the darkest time in the nation and the time when dawn is near,” he said.
At least six people died Saturday, in one of the bloodiest days since the military seized power and detained most civilian leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi. Four deaths have been reported in Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, and two in Pyay, a city in south-central Myanmar.
Overall, more than 70 people were killed in Myanmar during widespread protests against the military, said the advocacy group of the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners (AAPP). The figure was endorsed by the United Nations independent human rights expert for Myanmar, Tom Andrews.
Mahn Win Khaing Than was appointed acting vice president last week by representatives of Myanmar’s overthrown lawmakers, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Representative Committee (CRPH), which is pushing for recognition as the legitimate government.
He announced his intention to create a federal democracy, and the leaders met with representatives of Myanmar’s largest armed ethnic organizations, which already control large swathes of land across the country. Some have pledged their support.
“In order to form a federal democracy, which all the ethnic brothers, who have suffered from various forms of oppression from the dictatorship for decades, have really wanted, this revolution is an opportunity for us to unite our efforts,” said Mahn Win Khaing Than.
His speech was met with thousands of approving comments from many who followed him on Facebook. “Keep it up, Mr. President!” You are our hope. We are all with you, ”wrote one user, Ko Shan.
The military government has declared the CRPH illegal and said anyone involved could be charged with treason, punishable by death.
The CRPH declared the military government a “terrorist organization”.
Mahn Win Khaing Than said the CRPH “would attempt to legislate on the laws required for people to have the right to defend themselves” and that the public administration would be managed by an “interim popular administration team”.
A civil disobedience movement that started with government workers such as doctors and teachers turned into a general strike that crippled many sectors of the economy and took much of the functioning of government from the hands of the military.