The Burma Summit: Copenhagen 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:
We the ethnic nationalities of Burma, further call on the international community to:
For our part, the ethnic nationalities of Burma:
Khaing Myo Min (Arakan State)
Copenhagen, Denmark, 22 September 2002