Beginning of the End of Peace?
covering burma and southeast asia
Tuesday, April 23, 2024


Beginning of the End of Peace?


DKBA troops on parade at a Karen New Year’s ceremony in December 2006. (Phto: The Irrawaddy)
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But recently, all eyes and ears seem to  be focused on the election and the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The ethnic conflict needs to be resolved, however, in order to bring about any lasting political solution in Burma, said Tom Kramer in a report titled “Burma: Neither War nor Peace” published by the Transnational Institute.

Kramer, who has spent more than 15 years working on Burma issues and has visited ethnic regions, claimed that the world has focused on the struggle of the democratic opposition led by Suu Kyi, who has become an international icon, while the ethnic minority issue and the relevance of the cease-fire agreements have been almost completely ignored.

Instead of isolating and demonizing the cease-fire groups, all national and international actors concerned with peace and democracy in Burma should actively engage with them and involve them in discussions about political change in the country, Kramer said in the report.

“Without a political settlement that addresses ethnic minority needs and goals it is extremely unlikely there will be peace and democracy in Burma,” Kramer said.

Thus far, however, armed ethnic groups have seen no signal from the regime that raises their hopes that a political solution can be found. Ethnic leaders said that the general election and the 2008 Constitution will bring neither democracy nor civil rights for Burma’s ethnic people, but will only legitimize the junta’s power and secure its cronies’ business interests.

In addition, Saw Lah Pwe said that during the 15-year cease-fire period the government has not been honest and has shown no respect for the cease-fire or the ethnic groups.

“They [junta leaders] are not honest with their people or the ethnic minorities. They will only try to manipulate and eliminate us,” he said.

Saw Lah Pwe said that armed conflict between ethnic groups and the government forces should be solved peacefully by political means—otherwise there will be never ending conflict and Burma will never be stable or peaceful. But he also is not optimistic about a peaceful solution.

“Under the junta’s rule, we can barely breathe. We need to unite to fight together for our survival, our rights and for democracy in Burma,” he said.

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