The Burma Summit: Copenhagen 2002

21 June 2005

Copenhagen Declaration
22 September 2002

Declaration on behalf of the people of Arakan, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon, and Shan, and the NCGUB.

When General Ne Win seized power in 1962 and ended democracy, he claimed that the military was saving the Union of Burma from disintegration. The military claimed that the move by the ethnic nationalities to legally amend the Union Constitution to allow a federal system of government would break up the country. By ending a legitimate political dialogue and imposing a military solution, Ne Win plunged the nation into a civil war.

The creation of the Union of Burma was based on the 1947 Panglong Agreement between the ethnic nationalities leaders and Aung San. The principles guiding the Agreement were - equal rights of the ethnic nationalities, self-determination, and democracy. Unfortunately Aung San was assassinated and the Panglong Agreement was not fully implemented.

Successive military regimes have tried without success in the last 53 years to suppress the ethnic nationalities who make up at least 40% of the population and whose homelands cover 60% of the nation. This eventually led to such human rights abuses and excesses that the nation exploded in 1988 with nation-wide demonstrations calling for a return to democracy.

The military once again seized power from itself in 1988 to 'save' the nation from disintegration. The junta claims that without a strong military to hold the country together the Union of Burma will break up like the former Yugoslavia. The military claims that there are 135 races in Burma, each with an agenda to establish a separate nation.

This is not true. There are only eight constituent states in the Union of Burma and we primarily want the military to recognize the basic human and political rights of the people of Burma irrespective of their ethnic or state backgrounds. This cannot be denied.

Secondly, we want the ruling State Peace and Development Council to recognize that there is no military solution to Burma's problems. The only way forward is political dialogue, negotiations, compromises, and a willingness to work together to rebuild the nation.

Therefore, we the ethnic nationalities welcome the talks between the SPDC and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi that started in October 2000. However, we are disappointed that there has been no political progress nearly 2 years since the confidence building talks began.

We are even more concerned and disappointed that the military has not made peace or sought to gain the confidence of the ethnic nationalities who make up at least 40% of the population. Military operations with its accompanying human rights abuses, rape, summary executions forced labour and forced relocations have intensified in the border states.

In order to resolve Burma's problems, we the ethnic nationalities of Burma call on the SPDC to put the interest of the nation before its own self interest and:

  1. Immediately begin a political dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi;
  2. Immediately stop the use of forced labour, forced relocations, rapes, summary executions, and other human rights abuses by the military especially in ethnic nationalities areas;
  3. Immediately cease hostilities and military operations against the ethnic nationalities;
  4. Immediately free political prisoners and allow their participation in the political process;
  5. Allow the ethnic nationalities armies that have signed military cease-fires with the SPDC to freely meet and discuss amongst themselves how they can support the dialogue process and help rebuild the nation;
  6. Allow the ethnic nationalities-based political parties to freely meet and discuss amongst themselves how they can support the dialogue process and help rebuild the nation; and
  7. Expand the political dialogue process to include the ethnic nationalities in a 'Tripartite Dialogue'.

We the ethnic nationalities of Burma, further call on the international community to:

  1. Stop the systematic use of rape by the Burmese military as a political weapon against the ethnic nationalities of Burma;
  2. Provide a safe haven, social welfare and psycho-counselling for the survivors of rape;
  3. Provide humanitarian relief and assistance to the people of Burma especially in the ethnic nationalities areas that have experienced the military's scorched earth polices;
  4. Implement United Nations General Assembly resolutions since 1994 that call for a 'Tripartite Dialogue' amongst the military, the democracy movement led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and the ethnic nationalities of Burma;
  5. Implement the terms of the International Labour Organization resolution to end the practice of forced labour in Burma, especially in the ethnic nationalities areas; and
  6. Strengthen international sanctions and introduce new measures against the military until they take concrete steps to enter into a political dialogue.

For our part, the ethnic nationalities of Burma:

  1. Re-affirm our commitment to a 'Tripartite Dialogue' as the best means to achieve national reconciliation and democracy;
  2. Are ready to cease hostilities against the Burma Army, if the Burmese military is willing to declare a nationwide cease-fire;
  3. Will continue to consult our fellow ethnic nationalities organizations inside and outside Burma, cease-fire and non-cease-fire armies, on how we can truly help to rebuild the Union of Burma in the spirit of the Panglong Agreement;
  4. Will continue to work with the international community and the United Nations to find an equitable and just political solution in Burma; and
  5. Are ready to talk to the SPDC to find ways and means by which we can work together for the good of the nation and the welfare of our people.


Khaing Myo Min (Arakan State)
Salai Lian H Sakhong (Chin State)
Mahkaw Khun Sa (Kachin State)
Saw David Taw (Karen State)
Hteh Bupeh (Karenni)
Nai Banya (Mon State)
Sai Myo Win (Shan State)
Dr Sein Win (NCGUB)

Copenhagen, Denmark, 22 September 2002