Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday made her first open entreaty, urging Burmese government troops and ethnic armed groups to stop fighting as soon as possible and to solve problems by using peaceful ways.
The open letter, signed by Suu Kyi and addressed to President Thein Sein, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the Karen National Union (KNU), the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Shan State Army (SSA), said, “With the sole purpose of promoting the well-being of all nationalities in the land, I call for immediate cease-fires and the peaceful resolution of the conflicts.
“These conflicts are resulting in tragic outcomes such as loss of life, destruction of costly physical infrastructures and economic projects and a condition of general deterioration. Besides causing enormous suffering among local communities, these conflicts come with a potential risk of spilling over and spreading across Burma’s immediate neighbourhoods,” the statement continued.
“The (post-independence) Union of Burma was co-founded by different nationalities. Like siblings from a single family, all these nationalities had cohabited this land since time immemorial. Therefore, forging peaceful ties and unity among the nationalities is of paramount importance.”
A day after the general elections in November 2010, fighting began in Karen State followed by fighting in Kachin, Shan and Mon states.
Among the issues was an order by the former junta forcing ethnic cease-fire groups to transform their armies into a Union Border Guard Force under the control of the central government. Most ethnic groups opposed the order.
Meanwhile, the Naypyitaw government has pursued a policy that calls for the country to have only one army. So far, senior government officials in Naypyitaw have not publicly discussed the recent fighting in ethnic areas, according to sources close to officials. Political parties have had little success in trying to discuss the issue in Parliament.
Some political parties, such as Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, have repeatedly called for dialogue and national reconciliation.
In her letter, Suu Kyi said, “On my part I am prepared, and pledge, to do everything in my power towards the cessation of armed conflicts and building peace in the Union. ”
Win Tin, a NLD central executive committee member, said, “Now, the country is in the horrors of a civil war. Discussions and negotiations with regard to these affairs are always essential.”
Major Sai Lao Hseng of the Shan State Army (SSA) said, “On behalf of all ethnic people, if Aung San Suu Kyi calls for a nationwide cease-fire from the government and mediates, we will welcome it. We hope for that too.”
Fighting has continued in Shan and Kachin states until Tuesday. Many schools have been closed. Earlier, the SSA said Burmese government military aircraft dropped bombs on its troops. The reports could not be confirmed by outside sources.
Despite negotiations to reach a cease-fire agreement between the KIO and the Burmese government, often via mail or e-mail, there has been no significant let up in the fighting. More than 16,000 war refugees are in need of aid and medicine, according to a KIO health department official.
Similarly, in Karen State, continuing clashes have taken place until this week, with both sides firing heavy artillery. Government troops ordered villagers in Myawaddy Township not to go outside the village after it learned that DKBA Major General Bo Moustache’s troops were active near Myawaddy.
The All Mon Region Democracy Party chairman, Nai Ngwe Thein, said, “We want peace via any means. We don’t want fighting against each other…”
On Thursday, in a meeting between the Union Election Commission and 37 political parties, the Mon, Arakanese, Phalon-Sawaw, Shan and Chin ethnic parties all urged the authorities to set up a peace-making commission. In response to their call, the EU commission chairman Tin Aye said the parties should introduce the issue in Parliament.
Saw Bi Kyin Oo, the secretary of the Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party, said, “Peace has not been established in Karen State. Fighting has broken out frequently. People cannot live peacefully. The fighting enters the villages. Under the circumstances, the most important thing we need is peace.”
Aung San Suu Kyi’s ‘Open Letter’ to President Thein Sein
The following is an unofficial translation of a letter Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi sent to the president of Burma and others on Thursday.
1) U Thein Sein, President, Union of Myanmar
2) Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)
3) Karen National Union (KNU)
4) New Mon State Party (NMSP)
5) Shan State Army (SSA)
28 July 2011
The (post-independence) Union of Burma was cofounded by different nationalities. Like siblings from a single family, all these nationalities had cohabited this land since time immemorial. Therefore, forging peaceful ties and unity among the nationalities is of paramount importance.
Of late, there have been news stories about military conflicts between the country’s Armed Forces and the armed nationalities groups in various regions such as the Kachin, the Shan, the Karen, the Mon and so on. These conflicts are resulting in tragic outcomes such as loss of life, destruction of costly physical infrastructures and economic projects and a condition of general deterioration. Besides causing enormous suffering among local communities, these conflicts come with a potential risk of spilling over and spreading across Burma’s immediate neighbourhoods.
The use of force to resolve the conflicts is only going to be mutually harmful to all parties concerned. National reconciliation and unity cannot be built on might. It can only be pursued through political negotiations. Only through political negotiations can genuine national unity be established. Only such unity among nationalities can guarantee the country’s (peaceful) future. In the absence of genuine peace and reconciliation the potential spread of civil war always lurks beneath.
Conflicts among nationalities can surely be resolved on the basis of mutual respect and mutual understanding, leading ultimately to the Union’s peace and stability. Only when the Union is genuinely peaceful and stable can nation-building programmes be implemented successfully. Therefore, with the sole purpose of promoting the well being of all nationalities in the land I call for immediate cease-fires and the peaceful resolution of the conflicts.
On my part, I am prepared, and pledge, to do everything in my power towards the cessation of armed conflicts and building peace in the Union.
Aung San Suu Ky
(This article was first published by Mizzima News Agency, on the 28th of July 2011)