Make Minorities Part of the Solution
By Aung Naing Oo Tuesday, May 1, 2001

(Page 2 of 2)

In order to find that solution, it would be wise for those involved in the talks in Rangoon to allow ethnic groups to join in the discussions at the earliest date possible. Their inclusion in the talks—both in the current dialogue and in the "new" National Convention—is the key to finding that solution. Although significant progress cannot be guaranteed, the move will please the minorities greatly and generate trust among the communities, which is instrumental in the implementation of any outcome of the talks. The ethnic problem is just as critical as the need for democracy, perhaps even more so. Wars have been fought, and precious resources and lives have been wasted in disputes over ethnic rights and freedom. The military policy of "divide and conquer" might have worked for a period of time. But the Tatmadaw, the NLD or any other future Burman leadership will always walk a fine line over this. For the moment, silence in this dialogue may be golden, but that may not be the case in the near future. Without any hint as to where the talks are going, and above all, without any indication of when ethnic nationalities can be included in the negotiations, the ethnic groups’ suspicion will only grow as to whether participants in the Rangoon talks are sincere or simply seeking yet another "Burman solution." The NLD and the junta must both be prepared to accept the fact that if ethnic nationalities are considered to be part of the problem, they must also be regarded as part of the solution. Aung Naing Oo is an independent political analyst living in exile.

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