Former KNU Vice Chairperson Rejects 37-Point Agreement

By Lawi Weng 9 June 2017

RANGOON — The KNU-Concerned Group headed by Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein, the former vice chairperson of the Karen National Union (KNU), dismissed the 37 basic federal principles agreed upon in the second round of the 21st Century Panglong peace conference in a statement on June 8.

Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein said the points agreed to by stakeholder representatives from the government, Parliament, the Burma Army, political parties, and ethnic armed groups who were signatories to the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) at the conference at the end of May were not right for Burma’s ethnic people.

“Some points were similar to the 2008 Constitution,” she told The Irrawaddy. “Even then those did not mention our ethnic rights, which is why we were worried about it.”

The points were not inclusive for all people at the conference, the statement said, particularly people from Arakan and Shan states, who were not allowed to hold national level political dialogues with their ethnicities before the conference.

“If the government does not allow more discussions [on ethnic rights], this will lose rights for other ethnic groups,” she said.

All people in the country want peace and political change, according to the statement, and it is for the government and Burma Army to move forward for peace. The statement emphasized that the Burma Army should make more space for other ethnic groups to participate in the peace process.

“If they used their armed forces to pressure other ethnic armed groups to sign the NCA, it will lose trust and damage hopes for building peace in the country,” said Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein.

The peace process would not live up to expectations if the army pressures ethnic groups, she added.

She said the government’s continuation of the peace process without including other ethnic armed groups would cause more problems.

“Our concern is if the basis for peace is on the 37 points, then building peace and a genuine federal country will be difficult,” said the statement.

The 37 points were not agreed to by all political parties and not discussed thoroughly, while some participants were pressured in to signing them, the statement read.