Contact: Roland Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
BURMA'S PRO-DEMOCRACY REBELS - STICK TO YOUR GUNS!
May 16, 2015
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"Stick to your guns" is a well-known English saying. It means that you will not compromise. You will continue to demand what you both need and deserve, and not settle for less.
For Burma, the country's ethnic nationalities, who have suffered over fifty years of oppression at the hands of the Burman-dominated military dictatorship, need and deserve freedom and democracy. More immediately, they need relief from the dictatorship's attacks against them, including its widespread and systematic commission of a wide range of crimes against humanity.
The ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) that defend the people from the dictatorship recently concluded a six day conference, following which they released a statement about the situation in the country and their attempts to reach a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the regime. (A translation of this statement, prepared by Myanmar Peace Monitor, and included in the article Burma Ceasefire Agreement: One step forward, two steps back, by Mark Inkey in Asian Correspondent, May 08, 2015, is included at the end.)
The statement's most pressing demands are that the dictatorship stop its attacks, end its human rights abuses, and that the NCA include all the armed groups. Otherwise, how can it possibly be a "ceasefire," and "nationwide"?
Of note, these demands, either overt or implied, have been part of all the EAO position statements dating back to the beginning of the ceasefire negotiation. This includes at the UNFC's ethnic nationalities conference in August 2013; the Laiza meeting in November 2013; the Lawkeelar meeting in January 2014; and the UNFC statement in April 2015.
The ethnic nationality demands have never wavered. Similarly, the dictatorship's aggression and abuse has never ceased.
The EAOs will now meet again, to consider the draft NCA (to which the latest UNFC statement applied). Frankly, given the regime's intransigence, one wonders why they even bother. They have made their demands, and which are not only just: they are essential. The dictatorship must compromise, otherwise there is no reason even to talk.
The pro-democracy organizations for Burma's ethnic nationality peoples must stick to their guns. This means they should never back down, and also, quite literally, that they should not end their armed struggle. The revolution in Burma must continue until their demands - the legitimate aspirations of their people - are achieved.
BURMA ETHNIC ARMED ORGANIZATIONS STATEMENT
Pangsang Meeting, May 1-6, 2015
1. We reject the use of force. Political problems have to be solved by political means.
2. All ceasefire groups and non-ceasefire groups must have the right to sign the NCA.
3. The fighting in Northern Shan State and Kachin State must stop because it causes distrust.
4. Human rights violations in ethnic areas must stop.
5. The constitution has to be amended to guarantee ethnic rights, self-determination and a federal union.
6. We will not secede from the union
7. Fighting in Northern Burma must stop and the U.N. and China must monitor the ceasefire.
8. There must be all-inclusive political dialogue that includes the government, parliament, the army, political parties, EAOs and civil society organisations.
9. We all live together in the union, so we should have mutual respect and help each other. We need to build unity between Burmese and non-Burmese.
10. A group that includes representatives of all EAO groups should negotiate with the government and participate in political dialogue.
11. Conference participants support the proposal for the formation of a Wa State.
12. The United Wa State Party/Army will organise another EAO leaders conference at a convenient time.