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(CNN)I am thinking of a man who sang of freedom. His name is Zeyar Thaw.

He released my country's first hip-hop album in 2000. In the Myanmar of that time, this was almost a revolution. His rap touched the lives of many. Anyone who spoke of freedom then was living dangerously. A founder of Generation Wave, a pro-democracy movement, Zeyar Thaw's music brought him inevitably into politics.
    In 2011, after a stint in prison for his political activism and just as our democratic transition began, Zeyar Thaw was released and elected to parliament.
      Now he is sitting on death row. A few weeks ago, Zeyar Thaw and fellow freedom activist Ko Jimmy were sentenced to die by the military regime that stole power in February 2021. If their execution goes ahead it will be the first in the country in decades. Read MoreTheir crime? The regime accuses them of being "involved in terrorist acts." What does this mean? That they believe in freedom.The National Unity Government (NUG) has recorded almost 3,000 people who have been killed since the illegal coup. More than one million people have been displaced from their homes, with many seeking shelter in refugee camps. Another 1.6 million more have lost their jobs. More than 19,000 homes have been destroyed, the NUG estimates.
        The then-National League for Democracy (NLD) candidate Zeyar Thaw in Yangon on April 7, 2012.I was elected by the people of my constituency in November 2020. I was waiting to take the oath of office and to choose our next President. But on February 1, 2021, soldiers under the command of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing surrounded the dormitories where we lived as parliamentary members. They forced each of us to choose -- do we surrender to their guns or do we resist? I had already endured 11 hard years as a political prisoner under a previous military regime between 1998 and 2009. Most of those I spent in solitary confinement. This time, I could not just watch as another despotic general forced my country into chaos. I chose resistance.So did Zeyar Thaw and Ko Jimmy and many thousands across Myanmar. Nurses, teachers, doctors, farmers, even children -- they came out into the streets against the unwanted coup.

        We are living in a world where dictators support each other to retain their power. Therefore it must be clear that the struggle for democracy and freedom undertaken by the Myanmar people is a struggle that concerns everyone

        Zin Mar Aung

        We chose to assert our legitimacy, as elected members of parliament. We formed the National Unity Government because our freedom will not be stolen by the military's Russian guns. Russia continues to be a major supplier of arms, equipment and training to the military in my country, including fighter jets, helicopters and drones -- weapons which have been used to bomb and kill civilians since the coup. We have first-hand experience that Russia's military interference is not limited to Ukraine. Russia and Myanmar are strengthening their ties and we see it as part of a larger strategic engagement with Southeast Asia -- a coordinated attempt to promote autocracy and erode democracy in the region. In turn, the military junta has sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine. Just last week a high level delegation from the military council attended the 25th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum with the aim of strengthening their ties with the Russian regime.Myanmar's Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing on Armed Forces Day in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, on March 27, 2021. We are living in a world where dictators support each other to retain their power. Therefore it must be clear that the struggle for democracy and freedom undertaken by the Myanmar people is a struggle that concerns everyone.I am the Foreign Minister of the National Unity Government of Myanmar. It is my task to tell the world we will not be defeated. But what can I tell the people of Myanmar in return? What is the world saying to us?Over a year on from the coup, no country has formally recognized the regime of Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. The military continues its campaign of violence -- killing, burning, destroying food and crops, imprisoning people without charge. The generals stand accused of dreadful crimes against the Rohingya Muslim community and other ethnic minority people in our country. It claims it is targeting what it calls and has designated "terrorists" and blames many of these incidents on resistance fighters, rather than its own military. Military hardware is displayed during Myanmar's 77th Armed Forces Day parade in Naypyidaw on March 27.But US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's words in March 2022 need to be heard: "There is no one the Burmese military won't come for. No one is safe from atrocities under its rule. And so more people in Burma now recognize that ending this crisis, restoring the path to democracy, starts with ensuring the human rights of all people in the country, including Rohingya."We have to overcome this junta, changing their calculus so that they realize that they cannot keep Myanmar forever in the chains of their fear and greed.This is how we are going to do it.We must deny the junta the income that funds its violence. The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom have imposed some sanctions against the regime. But much more must be done to deny the junta the foreign currency it craves. The military continues to rely on funds from foreign companies to fund its acts of war. That flow of money, especially oil dollars, must and can be stopped. Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters make the three-finger salute of resistance during an anti-coup demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, on Tuesday, April 27.Hide Caption 1 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice officers clear a road after demonstrators spread placards in Yangon on Saturday, April 24.Hide Caption 2 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters run from security forces during an anti-coup demonstration in Yangon on April 12.Hide Caption 3 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarBuses from the Yangon Bus Service are seen burnt on April 12.Hide Caption 4 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice talk as they arrive at the site of a demonstration in Yangon on April 12.Hide Caption 5 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAnti-coup protesters walk through Yangon's Hlaing township on April 9.Hide Caption 6 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAn anti-coup protester raises a decorated Easter egg along with the three-fingered salute of resistance during a demonstration in Yangon on April 4.Hide Caption 7 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters hold homemade pipe air guns during a demonstration in Yangon on April 3.Hide Caption 8 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters hold improvised weapons in Yangon on April 3.Hide Caption 9 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarResidents of the Tamwe area of Yangon participate in a candlelight vigil on April 3.Hide Caption 10 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople take part in a "flower strike" in Yangon on April 2.Hide Caption 11 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters wearing face paint stand near a burning barricade during an anti-coup demonstration in Yangon on March 30.Hide Caption 12 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSoldiers walk toward anti-coup protesters during a demonstration in Yangon on March 30.Hide Caption 13 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters run to avoid the military in Yangon on March 30.Hide Caption 14 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA man rides his bike as smoke billows from burning barricades in Yangon on March 30.Hide Caption 15 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters throw stones and use slingshots as security forces approached in Yangon on March 28.Hide Caption 16 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSmoke rises after anti-coup protesters burned tires in Yangon on March 27.Hide Caption 17 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters make incendiary devices during an anti-coup rally in Yangon.Hide Caption 18 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSmoke rises over Yangon's Thaketa Township on March 27.Hide Caption 19 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMourners attend the funeral of Tin Hla, a 43-year-old who was reportedly shot dead by security forces during a protest.Hide Caption 20 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople cry in Yangon after a relative was shot during a crackdown on anti-coup protesters.Hide Caption 21 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters occupy a street during a rally in Yangon on March 27.Hide Caption 22 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters gesture during a march in Yangon on March 26.Hide Caption 23 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarThein Zaw, a journalist with the Associated Press, waves after being released from a prison in Yangon on March 24. He had been detained while covering an anti-coup protest in February.Hide Caption 24 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMen pray during the funeral of Khin Myo Chit, a 7-year-old girl who was shot in her home by Myanmar's security forces on March 23. The girl was killed during a military raid, according to the Reuters news agency and the advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.Hide Caption 25 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA Buddhist monk uses binoculars as he squats behind a road barricade with others in Mandalay, Myanmar, on March 22.Hide Caption 26 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarThe mother of Aung Kaung Htet wails during the teenage boy's funeral on March 21. Aung, 15, was killed when military junta forces opened fire on anti-coup protesters in Yangon.Hide Caption 27 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarUnidentified people cross the Tiau River at the India-Myanmar border on March 20. Some people from Myanmar have sought refuge in India since the protests began.Hide Caption 28 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAn anti-coup protester jumps over a makeshift barricade in Yangon on March 19.Hide Caption 29 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters take positions on Yangon's Bayint Naung Bridge on March 17. The bridge was blocked with an improvised barricade to prevent security forces from crossing.Hide Caption 30 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMedical students hold up the three-finger salute at the Yangon funeral of Khant Nyar Hein on March 16. The first-year medical student was fatally shot during the crackdown.Hide Caption 31 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters test Molotov cocktails in Yangon on March 16.Hide Caption 32 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters stand near burning tires in Yangon on March 16.Hide Caption 33 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAnti-coup protesters pray in Yangon on March 14.Hide Caption 34 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarEmergency workers transport the body of Shel Ye Win, who was shot by security forces in Mandalay.Hide Caption 35 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSmoke billows from the industrial zone of the Hlaing Tharyar township in Yangon on March 14. The Chinese Embassy in Myanmar said several Chinese-funded factories were set ablaze during protests. Demonstrators have accused Beijing of supporting the coup and junta.Hide Caption 36 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA member of Myanmar's police is seen firing a weapon toward protesters in Yangon on March 13.Hide Caption 37 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople lay flowers and light candles beside bloodied pavement where protester Chit Min Thu was killed in Yangon.Hide Caption 38 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMilitary trucks are seen near a burning barricade in Yangon that was erected by protesters and then set on fire by soldiers on March 10.Hide Caption 39 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester holds a homemade shield during an anti-coup demonstration in Yangon on March 9.Hide Caption 40 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester discharges a fire extinguisher to counter the impact of tear gas that was fired by police in Yangon on March 8.Hide Caption 41 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters string up longyi, traditional clothing worn in Myanmar, during a demonstration in Yangon on March 7.Hide Caption 42 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarThe wife of Phoe Chit, a protester who died during a demonstration, cries over her husband's coffin during his funeral in Yangon on March 5.Hide Caption 43 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters step on portraits of Myanmar's armed forces chief, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, during a demonstration in Yangon on March 5.Hide Caption 44 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople cry in Yangon on March 4, near a spot where a family member was killed while protesting.Hide Caption 45 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters lie on the ground after police opened fire to disperse an anti-coup demonstration in Mandalay on March 3.Hide Caption 46 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSchoolteachers wear traditional hats while participating in an anti-coup demonstration in Mandalay on March 3.Hide Caption 47 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA soldier stands next to a detained man during a demonstration in Mandalay on March 3.Hide Caption 48 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAnti-coup protesters run in Yangon on March 3. One of them discharged a fire extinguisher to counter the impact of tear gas fired by police.Hide Caption 49 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAn anti-coup protester writes vital emergency information of another protester on his arm in Yangon.Hide Caption 50 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice run toward protesters to disperse a demonstration in Yangon on March 3.Hide Caption 51 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA citizen of Myanmar living in India burns a poster of Myanmar's military chief during a protest in New Delhi on March 3.Hide Caption 52 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMedics help supply oxygen to a protester who was exposed to tear gas in Yangon on March 3.Hide Caption 53 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters flee after tear gas was fired during a demonstration in Yangon on March 1.Hide Caption 54 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters smoke behind shields during a demonstration in Yangon on March 1.Hide Caption 55 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters in Yangon run away from tear gas on March 1.Hide Caption 56 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople in Yangon take part in a ceremony on February 28 to remember those who have been killed during demonstrations.Hide Caption 57 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSoldiers patrol during a protest in Yangon on February 28.Hide Caption 58 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters take cover as they clash with police in Yangon on February 28.Hide Caption 59 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters erect barricades during a demonstration in Yangon on February 28.Hide Caption 60 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice charge at anti-coup protesters in Yangon on February 27.Hide Caption 61 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAn injured protester receives medical attention in Mandalay after police and military forces cracked down on protests on February 26.Hide Caption 62 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarFactory workers hold placards and shout slogans as they hold an anti-coup protest in Yangon on February 25.Hide Caption 63 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAnti-coup protesters shout slogans in Yangon on February 25.Hide Caption 64 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA police officer films protesters near the Indonesian Embassy in Yangon on February 24.Hide Caption 65 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarThida Hnin cries during the funeral of her husband, Thet Naing Win, in Mandalay on February 23. He and another protester were fatally shot by security forces during an anti-coup protest.Hide Caption 66 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice stand guard near the US Embassy in Yangon as protesters take part in an anti-coup demonstration on February 22.Hide Caption 67 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters hold signs featuring civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration in Yangon on February 22. Hide Caption 68 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters gather for a demonstration on February 22.Hide Caption 69 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA man is carried after police dispersed protesters in Mandalay on February 20. Hide Caption 70 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA police truck uses a water cannon to disperse protesters in Mandalay on February 20.Hide Caption 71 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA police officer aims a gun toward protesters during a demonstration in Mandalay on February 20.Hide Caption 72 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester holds a Suu Kyi poster as he sits in front of police in Yangon on February 19.Hide Caption 73 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters flash the three-fingered salute during a rally in downtown Yangon on February 19.Hide Caption 74 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarFlower tributes and sympathy messages are left in Yangon for Mya Thweh Thweh Khine. The 20-year-old was shot in the head at a protest in Naypyidaw, and she died on February 19.Hide Caption 75 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters block a major road during a demonstration in Yangon on February 17.Hide Caption 76 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarDemonstrators block a Yangon bridge with their cars on February 17.Hide Caption 77 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarBuddhist monks march during an anti-coup protest in Yangon on February 16.Hide Caption 78 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA Suu Kyi banner is displayed during demonstrations in Yangon on February 15.Hide Caption 79 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSoldiers carry barricades in Yangon on February 15.Hide Caption 80 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarElected members of Parliament wave to protesters in Yangon as police surround the headquarters of Suu Kyi's political party, the National League for Democracy, on February 15.Hide Caption 81 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMedics clear the way as an injured protester is carried away for treatment in Mandalay, Myanmar, on February 15.Hide Caption 82 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople gather around an armored vehicle in Yangon on February 14.Hide Caption 83 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarYoung people in Yangon take part in an anti-coup hip-hop performance on February 14.Hide Caption 84 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters demonstrate in Yangon on February 14.Hide Caption 85 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA child runs alongside an armored vehicle in Yangon on February 14.Hide Caption 86 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters march through the city of Shwebo on February 13.Hide Caption 87 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMembers of the Myanmar Photographers Association hold up their cameras as they call for Suu Kyi's release on February 13.Hide Caption 88 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice detain a protester during a demonstration in Mawlamyine on February 12.Hide Caption 89 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarFarmers ride a tractor with a Suu Kyi poster during a demonstration in Thongwa on February 12.Hide Caption 90 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester dressed as Lady Justice makes a three-finger salute as she takes part in a demonstration in Yangon on February 11.Hide Caption 91 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters demonstrate in Bagan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on February 11.Hide Caption 92 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarGen. Min Aung Hlaing, the country's military leader, makes a televised statement on February 11. He announced that more than 23,000 prisoners were set to be granted amnesty and released that day. It was unclear what offenses the prisoners were convicted of.Hide Caption 93 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarBodybuilders take part in a protest in Yangon on February 11.Hide Caption 94 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople hold up letters that spell "get out dictators" during a demonstration at Inle Lake on February 11.Hide Caption 95 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester carries a child during a march in Yangon on February 10.Hide Caption 96 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarWomen in wedding gowns holds up anti-coup placards in Yangon on February 10.Hide Caption 97 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA police officer aims a gun during clashes with protesters in the capital of Naypyidaw on February 9.Hide Caption 98 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester pleads for police to refrain from using tear gas against demonstrators in Yangon on February 9.Hide Caption 99 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice fire water cannons at protesters in Naypyidaw on February 9.Hide Caption 100 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters gather in Yangon on February 8.Hide Caption 101 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters flash three-fingered salutes as they face rows of riot police in Naypyidaw on February 8.Hide Caption 102 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarHospital workers show three-finger salutes during a demonstration in Yangon on February 7.Hide Caption 103 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA rally takes place in Yangon on February 7.Hide Caption 104 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters shout slogans in Yangon on February 7.Hide Caption 105 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters give roses to riot police in Yangon on February 6.Hide Caption 106 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarYangon residents bang objects to show support for Suu Kyi and her party on February 5. Hide Caption 107 of 108 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSoldiers block a road near Myanmar's Parliament on February 2, a day after the coup.Hide Caption 108 of 108It also relies on Russia. Russian weapons are flowing into my country, and Min Aung Hlaing has visited Moscow and even been honored by a Moscow university since the coup. Russia's veto makes it impossible for the UN Security Council to reach any common position on stopping this violence. The example of Ukraine demonstrates how the world can use economic levers to put pressure on a regime.Sanctions have thus far been used in Myanmar mostly against individuals -- more can and must be done to go after oil revenues and the ease with which the military can use the international banking system to extract its stolen riches and import the weapons it needs to prosecute its crimes. Recently, the UK government imposed sanctions against Russian companies that are supporting the military junta: this a step in the right direction. The murderous acts of the Myanmar military will not stop until their income fails.Domestically, we will overcome the junta by the power of inclusion. My country has been at war with itself for many decades. Now, in opposition to the military, a new alliance between the ethnic groups of Myanmar is building a new, shared future. We are addressing the root causes of violence through our new Federal Democratic Charter -- a plan for a decentralized, inclusive Myanmar. We are learning together where we need to go.

        The murderous acts of the Myanmar military will not stop until their income fails

        Zin Mar Aung

        This vision has been validated by our National Union Consultative Council, the most inclusive, substantive and people-oriented process we have ever had in Myanmar. This NUCC brings together representatives of different political parties, ethnic voices and civil society to create common solutions to the challenges we face. We are learning together where we need to go. And we are putting this inclusion into practice. Many parts of our country are already free from junta control thanks to the bravery of ethnic resistance organizations and the actions of the people in defending their own homes. In these areas, we are working with ethnic political and civil society organizations to build local administrations led by the people's representatives, and these new administrations are taking responsibility for health and human services.Another element in our plan is to oppose the sham election that the junta seeks to impose on the country.This tactic is familiar, creating elections in which only they can stand, only they can win, and then parading the result as if it matters. This traps Myanmar in endless cycles of disempowerment and violence. Karen refugees who fled fighting between the Myanmar army and insurgent groups, in a temporary camp on the Myanmar side of the Moei River which forms the border with Thailand.Our intention is to give the people of the country real freedom, not some mockery that serves the ambitions of one general who knows the people spurned him last time they had a choice.Internationally, we assert the right of the people of Myanmar to the government that they choose. The French Senate and other parliaments have already determined that we are the legitimate government, because we carry the authority of the 2020 election and the consent of the people.The current ASEAN Five Point Consensus has failed. The international community needs a more effective strategy to help Myanmar -- and restore the civilian government. This must start with a more effective plan to deliver humanitarian assistance. Efforts at providing aid will fail if the donors allow the military a veto over how it is delivered --- Min Aung Hlaing and his henchmen do not care about the sufferings of the people. They have even in the last few days targeted food supplies so as to starve our people.Myanmars coup leaders tried to crush resistance. But one year on, its stronger than everThey made clear that they want full control on humanitarian aid as a way to gain legitimacy and leverage on their strategy.We in the National Unity Government stand ready to enable humanitarian agencies to reach those most in need. Myanmar has a resilient civil society that is carrying out incredible work to serve their communities. Humanitarian aid can and should be delivered while being accountable to the Myanmar people.Finally, we must hold Min Aung Hlaing and his henchmen to account for the crimes they committed. The murdered children, the people taken and tortured in prison, the villagers forced to watch their crops destroyed -- victims have a right to justice, and it shall not be denied to them.
          We have seen the international reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That reaction gives me hope. We do not want to live in a world where such crimes can be committed with impunity. People believe that Ukraine can and should be free.My country, its people and my friends -- Zeyar Thaw and Ko Jimmy, about to be murdered -- they are waiting for the world to believe that Myanmar can be free as well.

          News Source: CNN

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