Muslim Political Party Asks to Join Union Day Event

By Lawi Weng 2 February 2017

RANGOON — A Muslim political party has asked the National League for Democracy (NLD) government to allow them to attend a Union Day event in Panglong, southern Shan State next week.

According to U Kyaw Min, the chairman of the Rangoon-based Democracy and Human Rights Party, the organization sent a letter to State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Jan. 25, asking her to let their party members come to the scheduled peace conference.

“If we have a chance to join the conference, then we will have a chance to talk about our conflict and we will learn how to solve it. This will help a lot, to participate in the peace process in the Rakine region,” said U Kyaw Min, referring to unrest in Arakan State, which intensified after state security forces initiated a “clearance campaign” following attacks by militants on border police outposts in October of last year. According to the UN, some 65,000 Rohingya Muslims have since been displaced to neighboring Bangladesh.

“We should have a chance to join the meeting, so that we can say it is all-inclusive. We should have the right to participate in the peace conference,” he said.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will attend Union Day events in Panglong on February 12, along with representatives of other political parties.

If they receive no reply from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Kyaw Min said that his party will not be able to join the proceedings.

He added that if Burma holds a national-level political dialogue based on ethnicity in different divisions and states, the government should also hold a peace meeting in Arakan State between Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims to address conflict in the region.

The Rohingya-led Democracy and Human Rights Party was originally formed as the National Democratic Party for Human Rights in 1989 and won four parliamentary seats in Burma’s 1990 elections, the results of which were not honored by the military. The party was subsequently banned, until re-registering to contest the 2015 election. However, due to the disenfranchisement of the Rohingya, the party was only allowed to field three candidates out of a proposed 18, none of whom won in their respective constituencies.