Ethnic Groups Agree Six-Point Peace Plan

Nai Hang Thar (back row, far left) addresses delegates during a UNFC meeting at the Thai-Burmese border earlier this year. (Photo: phophtaw.org)

Nai Hang Thar (back row, far left) addresses delegates during a UNFC meeting at the Thai-Burmese border earlier this year. (Photo: phophtaw.org)

Burma’s ethnic armed groups have agreed their own standard plan for peace negotiations in order to challenge government attempts to push minorities into Parliament.

More than 100 ethnic leaders and civil society representatives attended a three-day “ethnic conference” in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, from Friday to discuss how to implement peace in Burma which enshrines rights for minorities.

A statement released after the close of the ethnic conference on Sunday said, “We do not believe that the peace plans from the government can implement peace in the country. Therefore, we formulated our own proposal which can build real peace.

“To have peace and unity in Burma, it is the duty for all people to work together. Therefore, we brought different representatives here in order to discuss and determine solutions to problems and how to have peace in the Union of Burma.”

Their agreed plan has six points: to host a meeting with civil society and all ethnic armed groups; a meeting between all ethnic armed groups and government representatives monitored by the international community; referendums in each ethnic state to ratify agreements reached; a meeting with all ethnic people to talk about peace; tripartite dialogue between the government, democracy activists and ethnic people; and implementation of agreements reached.

The proposal contrasts with efforts by Naypyidaw which focus on ceasefires, economic development and forming ethnic political parties to contest elections and enter Parliament. Ethnic leaders say they do not want legislative representation as the 2008 Constitution is undemocratic and so they insist on forging political agreements outside the institution instead.

Ethnic leaders say their plan would also prevent the Burmese government choosing their own candidates for regional posts as they would have to negotiate with minority groups first.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, Dr. Sui Khar, a leader of Chin National Front, said, “We arranged this conference because we do not want a repeat of the National Convention [in 2007]. At that time, they elected people who they liked and even wrote plans without asking for our input.

“Now, we have written our own plan for what we want them to do,” he added.

Fighting can break out again in the country if armed groups are forced to abide by the government’s own peace plan, claim ethnic leaders.

“The government needs to be careful when they handle ethnic issues. If not, fighting can spread across the country at any time,” said a representative from a Kayan civil society group who asked to remain anonymous.

Despite the government claiming that it has agreed ceasefires with 11 ethnic armed groups, there have been regular skirmishes with Shan rebels and Naypyidaw also rejected a request from the Karenni National Progressive Party for a resettlement base. Political talks have also not yet taken place with any ceasefire group.

Ethnic leaders believe they can put pressure on the government to hold political dialogue with all armed groups by standing united and emphasizing the common ground between different rebel armies.

Leaders point to previous ceasefires which never progressed to political dialogue and eventually broke down, such as the government’s 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army which came to an end last June.

Nai Hang Thar, secretary of United Nationalities Federal Council umbrella organization of ethnic armed groups and also the secretary of the New Mon State Party, said, “To have common agreement is a force for ethnic people to show the government that we are united and we have our own plans for what to do regarding the implementation of peace in the country.

“No matter if they do not accept our plan, we can show them that this is our common plan to solve the problem of ethnic conflicts.”

Despite different ethnic armed groups holding separate peace talks with the government, these individual deals will have to be based upon the six-point plan agreed in Chiang Mai to ensure all groups are consistent with each other, claim ethnic leaders.

They added that ethnic groups cannot compete with the Burmese government in Parliament due to the 25 percent of seats reserved for the military. “They have a majority of people at Parliament so we cannot fight for our ethnic rights there,” said Nai Hang Thar. “This is why we must find a political solution outside Parliament.”


4 Responses to Ethnic Groups Agree Six-Point Peace Plan

  1. Here we go again. Sequence always has consequence. The Thein Sein administration has dragged its feet too slow. The ethnics have felt the heat and their patience has run out. The voice of the ethnics must be heard or Thein Sein’s way to democracy becomes history? We want pure democracy, not China’s way of fake democracy. Assaulting our brothers and sisters, Kachins, is sending serious alarm to all ethnics.

  2. The Burmese Freedom Fighter

    Seeing this meeting make my head spring of action talks louder than words. No shame on all of them. All these representatives are a bunch of opportunists with the records of breaking their own agreements throughout their solidarity conference just like this one. Nothing will benefit Burma out of that conference but confusion and waste of time.

    How many times have you guys said that you were united under the name of one after another umbrella group and each and everyone of your wearing masks were taken off in front of our eyes? The revelation of who you are will not take that long and I can predict that all of you will fall one after another to huge business deal while ordinary followers of yours pay their life in defense of your selfishness. Please grow up to be sensible and join your forces with the democratic movement to get your fair shot in Burma reform, then expend stability and more rights leading to federalism under democracy system.

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter

  3. Please! The country is heading to the right path and these buffoons want to redraw the Constitution. This is akin to MPs trying to see who is more powerful in the parliament a month ago by impeaching here and there, asking to be the same level as ministers (probably to get more benefits out of our poor country) instead of doing the job that we, the People, voted them to do!

    Why dont u want to work within the Constitution? Have you not read Sun Tze? Conform then transform! Try it, it will work wonders. See ASSK, she conform with current consitution first, now she has a chance to be involved and add value to the current administration and possibly put forward the new legislation that our country needs. How could this be possible if she is forming her own parallel govt, somewhere in Chiang Mai and starting shouting she wanted to redraft the Consitution!

    Simply can’t believe it! The intelligence of these people can be so overwhalming.

  4. One for All. And All for One, I think its a good attempt again by the ethnic nationalities forces as a United Front to demand the “rights of self determination” and “autonomy” from the Myanmar Nation . But more politically savvy and intelligent Myanmar-Burma Watchers might be able to explain ,to naive persons like me who are included the “One” and “All” set. In what basis do we exclude or include whom, how , why and when will a “negotiated political settlement” be reached , so the ordinary people in Myanmar can lead peaceful lives with confidence and human dignity.

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