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Reformed Burma in the Making ?-Sai Wansai

Reformed Burma in the Making ?-Sai Wansai

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Published by Jutta Pflueg
24.november 2011- Reformed Burma in the Making ?-Sai Wansai
24.november 2011- Reformed Burma in the Making ?-Sai Wansai

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Published by: Jutta Pflueg on Nov 24, 2011
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A reformed Burma in the making?
Written by Sai WansaiThursday, 24 November 2011 19:36
By: Sai Wansai Thursday, 24 November 2011
All signs and indications seem to be pointing towards an imminent start of a serious reformprocess in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi and National League for Democracy (NLD) decided tore-register the party and run for by-elections, a few days back; US President Obama made astatement to send his Secretary of States, Hillary Clinton, to Burma within the first week ofDecember; EU is considering to soften the sanctions imposed; and last but not least, UNSecretary General, Ban Ki-moon is also in an upbeat mood and would be soon visiting Burma,according to President Thein Sein’s invitation. However, the recent ceasefire talks with various ethnic armed groups, coming on the heels oflast week diplomatic coup in Bali, where Burma has been given a green light to chair ASEAN in2014, is well timed and looks as if being carefully planned to coincide with Clinton’s forthcomingvisit in a week or so. The meetings were conducted at an undisclosed, but believed to be inMaesai, a Thai-Shan border town, between Naypyidaw’s special representative U Aung Min andnon-Burman resistance armies’ delegations headed by Sao Yawdserk, Restoration Council ofShan States (RCSS); David Taw, Karen National Union (KNU); Bee Htoo, Karenni NationalProgressive Party (KNPP); Zin Cung, Chin National Front (CNF) and N Ban La, KachinIndependence Organization (KIO). According to Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN), U Aung Min, Minister for RailwayTransport, visiting the Thai-Burmese border, on 19 November, said the peace talks beingpursued by Naypyidaw will not stop at signing ceasefire pacts and creating business openingsfor the non-Burman ethnic armed groups, the standard procedure followed by its predecessor,but will also include a Panglong-like conference. He added, “In all likelihood, it may even bebetter than Panglong.”
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A reformed Burma in the making?
Written by Sai WansaiThursday, 24 November 2011 19:36
Shan sources said that U Aung Min, who is said to be personally close to President Thein Sein,offered ceasefire, development, and “an inclusive conference in the style of Panglong”, whereAung San Suu Kyi is expected to play a prominent role. If this is truly the official line of President Thein Sein, he might be signalling the departure fromthe successive military regimes’ rigid, hard-line position on Panglong Agreement. Thein Seinserved as a Prime Minister under SPDC military regime until last year.Even just about one and a half years ago, the SPDC regime had said that the Panglong era wasover. In response to the then SPDC government’s BGF plan, the Kachin offered to integrate theirtroops – under a federal government - into a "federal army" that would include separate Kachinbattalions. The government blatantly rejected the Kachin proposals and Lieutenant General YeMyint has said to have replied that "the Panglong era is over". Also as recently as a year ago, the SPDC had warned Aung San Suu Kyi against holding “a21st century Panglong” meeting as it would “bring more harm than good.” To make it short, the voluntary participation of the non-Burman ethnic groups in forming the newpolitical entity, the Union of Burma, together with the Burman in 1948, was made possible bythe signing of Panglong Agreement in 1947, which emphasized the principles “full autonomy ininternal administration”, “democracy” and “human rights.” It was participated by leaders ofalmost all of the British Burma territories: Ministerial Burma -which included Arakan, Mon, andKaren- , Federated Shan States, Kachin Hills and Chin Hills, except Karenni andNon-Federated Wa States. But General Ne Win launched a coup d’etat in 1962, claiming ‘to save the nation fromdisintegration’ and suspended the 1947 Constitution. From the non-Burman ethnic nationalities’point of view, this act abolished the legal instrument that bound their homelands to the Union.As such, they consider themselves to be independent entities held by force in subjugation by aninvading army. 
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A reformed Burma in the making?
Written by Sai WansaiThursday, 24 November 2011 19:36
This breaching of contract, from the part of the successive Burman-dominated governments – starting from U Nu, General Ne Win, and General Than Shwe to the present ex-general, andPresident Thein Sein - is the main reason for the ongoing armed conflict continuing to thesedays. And so, it is expected that the similar Panglong conference to be called by Thein Seingovernment would again have to deal with the issue of democracy, equality and rights ofself-determination, which would mean that the military-drawn, 2008 Constitution has to be eitherdrastically amended or rewrite a new one. For the NLD, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burman opposition camps, democracy and equalitywithin the mould of unitary system could perhaps cover all their need satisfaction and thus, quiteacceptable. But for the non-Burman ethnic nationalities, without the rights of self-determinationor security to protect their ethnic identities and their birthright sovereignty, it is impossible to fulfiltheir aspirations. To put it differently, democracy and rights of self-determination are two sidesof the same coin for them and have to be tackled together, not separately. In a letter to NLD, dated 15 November, Shan Nationalities league for Democracy (SNLD),regarding the re-registration of NLD party, writes: “We would also like to point out thatdemocracy alone will not bring internal peace. For the ethnic peoples, the Right of SelfDetermination and Equality are especially vital. Without achieving them, genuine internal peacecannot be established.” According to SHAN, in response to this, Aung San Suu Kyi has said to promise to fight fordemocracy and ethnic rights, both at the same time, during the meeting with United NationalitiesAlliance (UNA) leaders last Tuesday, 15 November.Against this backdrop, the peace process initiated by Thein Sein would have to deal with thecore problem of democratisation and resolving the ethnic conflicts, which have been going onfor decades, if long lasting solution is to be achieved. The answer boils down to on how the politics of accommodation is going to be played out bycontending parties.For now, it seems the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi have been effectively pacified for agreeing tore-register the party and poised to enter the forthcoming by-elections, although this is also seenas a Burman political alliance between Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein, leaving out thenon-Burman ethnic groups to fend for themselves, from some critical quarters.
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