Myanmar’s military junta terminates citizenship of 11 opposition leaders

Myanmar’s military junta revoked the citizenship of opposition leaders accused of having fled the country and harmed national interests.

Protest against Myanmar's military junta
Protest against Myanmar’s military junta | Pyae Sone Htun, October 2021

Myanmar’s ruling military council has announced the revocation of citizenship of top members of the main group coordinating resistance to army rule.

The announcement was made on state-run television on March 4. It targeted eight members of the shadow National Unity Government and three prominent activists.

The eleven opponent leaders to the military junta are no longer Burmese because they allegedly fled the country and harmed the nation’s interests. The military also said that “similar perpetrators will be identified and prosecuted”.

The NUG views itself as the legitimate ruling authority. It was established by elected legislators who were barred from taking their seats when the military seized power in February last year, ousting the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Resistance to the takeover has now led to what some U.N. experts have characterized as a civil war.

Most NUG leaders are thought to be hiding in border areas controlled by armed ethnic minority groups sympathetic to them, while others operate from abroad. Aung San Suu Kyi, imprisoned by the junta since the coup and recently convicted of jail time for owning walkie-talkies and breaking coronavirus rules, is the State Counselor of the NUG. She is not part of the members deprived of citizenship.

Ceasing citizenship of Cabinet members by terrorist military junta is just a joke. Nothing can stop our love for our country,” Aung Myo Min and NUG Human Rights Minister reacted on Twitter. Affected by the junta’s decision, he considers the announcement illegal, arguing the military council is not the legitimate government.

The minister has been traveling in Europe to seek support for the resistance movement.

Zin Mar Aung, the group’s foreign minister also deprived of citizenship considers “they do not have the right to strip people’s citizenship away”. “Just because coup makers pretending to be a government strip away my citizenship does not make me love Myanmar less.”

Cabinet members are also charged with high treason, which carries a potential death penalty, and other political offenses.

The three activists considered stateless by the junta included one leader of a failed 1988 uprising against a previous military dictatorship.

In Myanmar, most Rohingya people are also denied Burmese citizenship. They are considered “resident foreigners” and most are stateless. In 2017, during a democratic period in Myanmar, the Rohingya genocide carried out by the Burmese military killed more than 25,000 people and forced hundreds of thousands of them to flee the country. Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the country at the time, was criticized on the international scene for her lack of actions against military forces who later removed her from office.

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