"Do not put your trust in man. Rather, trust the constitution that we will be drafting." These were the very words that Bogyoke Aung San used to address the deep mistrust expressed by Shan, Kachin and Chin representatives about certain ethnic Bamar leaders when he persuaded them to sign the historic Panglong Agreement in February 1947.
Asian Correspondent- Two weeks after a National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was signed between Burma’s central authorities and a number of ethnic armed groups, the country’s ethnic areas remain anything but peaceful.
Three years ago, a quasi-civilian government took office in Burma, shedding the country’s pariah image and introducing democratic reforms that have won widespread praise. Yet events last week have raised doubts about the government’s reformist credentials and its commitment to a genuine democratic transition.
New York Times - Myanmar’s government signed a cease-fire agreement with eight armed ethnic groups on Thursday, in what the country’s leaders described as a major step toward peace in the vast borderland regions that have been restive since the earliest days of the country’s independence.
After decades of conflict, it is often said that that political struggle in Myanmar has three groupings: military, pro-democracy and ethnic. But, as Cheery Zahau argues in this commentary, the ethnic nationality cause is frequently marginalised and misunderstood. Paradigm shifts in political behaviour and perspectives are required on all sides if the failures of the past are not to be repeated.
Bouncing Back - Relapse in the Golden Triangle, a new in-depth report by the Transnational Institute (TNI) launched in Yangon, Burma/Myanmar, on Monday June 2, highlights the profound changes in the illicit drugs market in the Golden Triangle – Burma, Thailand and Laos – and neighbouring India and China over the past five years.
The problem of opium should not be perceived only as a simple, black-and-white, law enforcement problem. To address problems related to opium cultivation, substantial socio-economic development is required to provide meaningful alternatives for farmers, and to ensure that a humanitarian crisis will not occur as the consequence of repressive drug control policies.
Following the February coup, the violence used by the security forces against civilian protestors in Myanmar’s towns and cities has shocked public opinion around the world. But, as Naw Hsa Moo and Dominique Dillabough-Lefebvre explain in this commentary, such tactics have long been used by the Myanmar armed forces in military operations in the country’s ethnic states and regions. Awareness is now building and, as they argue, the military coup has brought new understanding and sympathy between pro-democracy and ethnic nationality movements.
Myanmar is in the process of formulating an investment law and a land use policy that when combined will lay the foundations of development for the country. As it stands, these proposed instruments could have an adverse impact on human rights, and in particular land rights.
Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD government faced a tough situation with China at the time of their inauguration in March. But, as she visits Beijing this week, hopes are high again in China that a redirection of Myanmar's foreign policy could be underway and the pendulum of Myanmar's balancing diplomacy is swinging back to the east. But many challenges lie ahead. These include resolution of the Myitsone dam impasse, repositioning political relations between the two countries, and peaceful settlement of ethnic conflicts in the Myanmar borderlands. The stakes are very high. The outcome of Aung San Suu Kyi's meetings could well come to define Myanmar-China relations for many years to come.
Today is Union Day in Myanmar, which marks the historic Panglong Agreement in February 1947 when the principles of equality and unity were drawn up for the future union. In 2021, however, it is not a day of celebration but one of protest as peoples across the country take to the street to demonstrate against the assumption of power by the military State Administrative Council. In this commentary, TNI analyses why the present crisis is so profound and why the patterns of military rule, state failure and ethnic conflict are in grave danger of being repeated. Peace and national reconciliation are required today, not at some indeterminate time in the future.
As the peoples of Myanmar commemorate Union Day this week, Sai Wansai argues that “civic nationalism” can help address the crisis in "ethnic nationalism" that underpins state failure and the enduring cycles of conflict in the country. Seventy-three years after the historic Panglong Agreement brought the new Union into being, Myanmar is a land that is yet to achieve ethnic peace and political inclusion.
There is genuine hope that by sharing her story as a woman who grows opium, Nang Kham could help encourage other women farmers to speak out, and encourage the wider community to realise the collective benefits of gender equality.
In a country that was ruled by dictatorship for several decades, the local administration units are also no stranger to emergency-like authoritarian measures. Many thought there is no option but detention to deal with the situation. It is easier for the authorities even at the village and ward levels to ensure authoritarian submission if the country is in panic.
An ethnocratic state produces a form of fascism in which the state supports the rights and welfare of the dominant ethnic group, but not others. By contrast, a tolerant multicultural state or plural society permits all people, regardless of ethnicity, to be recognised as equal members and thus achieves social justice. This comparison suggests that narrow nationalism is a chief source of the failure of Myanmar to become a modern and successful nation-state.
Concerns are deepening in the Kachin and Shan States as the government seeks to close internal displacement camps while conflict continues and the coronavirus is still spreading. War-shattered communities face a highly uncertain future. This commentary reports on a new initiative by civil society organisations to ensure that the human rights and security of IDPs are protected. But without peace and political reform, there are many worries that the crisis will only continue.
Two reports by TNI published earlier this month have raised critical issues surrounding the upcoming elections in Burma, expected sometime later in 2010. Below, a piece from the Asia Times looks at these in the context of the country's complex political situation.
Controversy continues over a suspended mega-dam project, backed by China, on the Irrawaddy River in Kachin State. The social and environmental consequences of the proposed project cast a shadow not only over the local Kachin population but over all the nationalities of Myanmar. Public awareness is growing why protecting the Irrawaddy is of national importance.