During an annual armed forces day parade, Myanmar’s military ruler, Min Aung Hlaing, called on his foreign critics to support his junta’s plans for a return to democracy, rather than siding with a “terrorist” resistance movement that he claimed aimed to destroy the country. He dismissed international condemnation of his military rule as false narratives by a shadow National Unity Government (NUG).
The upcoming election in August, which has already been criticized as a sham, is likely to be dominated by a proxy party of the military. Min Aung Hlaing urged the international community to collaborate with the current government to achieve a democratic path.
His coup in February 2021 abruptly ended a decade of tentative democracy and unprecedented economic development in Myanmar, which has been under military rule for five of the past six decades. However, many political parties have been decimated or refuse to take part in the election, with some siding with the shadow NUG, which seeks international support and backs militias involved in guerrilla attacks on security forces.
Human rights groups accuse the military of committing atrocities in operations against the resistance fighters, including attacks on the civilian population, and the United Nations says at least 1.2 million people have been displaced. The junta insists it is targeting terrorists, not civilians. Min Aung Hlaing emphasized the need to respect Myanmar’s sovereignty and warned of martial law in important areas that require control.