Ousted lawmakers form resistance

IN a spartan hillside room in India furnished only with a thin sleeping mat, the Myanmar member of parliament spends much of his days attentively listening to Zoom conference calls and tapping away messages on his smartphone.

The short, soft-spoken man is among a dozen ousted Myanmar MPs who have fled across the border to India’s remote northeastern region after the military’s Feb 1 coup and lethal crackdown on dissent.Reuters spoke to two of the lawmakers and a Myanmar politician, all involved with the Committee for Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a body of ousted lawmakers that is attempting to re-establish the civilian government and displace the military.

The three said the group was supporting demonstrations, helping distribute funds to supporters and holding negotiations with multiple entities to quickly form a civilian administration nationwide. They asked not to be named for fear of reprisals against their families.

Most of the ousted lawmakers are from deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy that overwhelmingly won a November 2020 election, which the military has annulled.

The fear of detention and inability to rebuild a civilian government without Internet connectivity has driven some Myanmar lawmakers involved in the resistance to work from India, the two MPs elected to Myanmar’s parliament said.

“There is no time, ” one of them, who is from the country’s western Chin state, said. “People are dying in our country.”

The military has accused the CRPH of treason. The group is working to set up a national unity government to challenge the military’s authority.

Since fleeing to India two weeks ago, the lawmaker said he had been holding regular discussions with colleagues to set up a parallel administration in Chin state, under directions from the CRPH.

The process is complex, involving building consensus between elected representatives, political parties, ethnic armed groups, civil society bodies and civil disobedience movement leaders.

The CRPH is also keen on opening communications with India, where at least 1,800 people from Myanmar are already sheltering, and it will seek New Delhi’s blessings for the parallel government it is attempting to form, the politician said.

Some of the fiercest resistance to the junta has come from Sagaing. In the last two months. Around 2,000 families involved in the civil disobedience movement in one part of the region have been given financial aid, the lawmaker from Sagaing said.For India, the presence – and activities – of escapee Myanmar lawmakers could pose a diplomatic quandary, particularly given New Delhi’s close ties with the Tatmadaw.

Still, the politician involved with the CRPH said he was hopeful that India would engage with the group.

“If democracy wins in Myanmar, it is also a win for India, ” he said. — Reuters

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