By Joseph Allchin
Burma’s National Parlaiment or Amyotha Hluttaw approved the creation of a ‘peace committee’ to attempt to solve the country’s ongoing, and seemingly intractable ethnic conflicts. With sources claiming that opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi could be included in the commitee.
The committee was approved on Wednesday but not made fully public till yesterday. The parliament has not made a final decision on who will be on the committee.
However Dr Aye Maung, chairman of Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) and an MP in the National parliament made the suggestion that Aung San Suu Kyi should be included in that committee whilst discussing the formation of the peace committee, said Phone Myat Aung, an MP for the National Democratic Force (NDF) Party.
“[Dr Aye Maung] read out the summery of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s letter for peace and suggested the she and other well-respected individuals should be included in the [peace] committee,” said Phone Myint Aung.
He said military representatives in the parliament focused their discussion on a perspective that development only comes after peace.
There has been an apparent warming of relations between the government of Thein Sein and the Nobel Laureate but she will be placed in a difficult position should she be invited to participate in such an official capacity with a government who she and her party have broadly labelled illegitimate;
“Parliament just approved the principle of the formation of the peace committee, but it was not clear whether Suu Kyi will be allowed to participate in the committee or even whether Suu Kyi herself wanted to join or not,” said an MP who requested anonymity to Deutsche Press-Agentur.
Suu Kyi met Thein Sein for the first time on the 19 August at an economic forum held in the capital Naypyidaw. She appeared positive after the meeting, offering many hope that reforms and compromise were possible.
However the issue of ethnic conflict is indeed one of the biggest challenges for the government. Fighting has only increased since last year’s controversial election, with fighting breaking out with groups previously holding a cease fire with Naypyidaw, such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Shan State Army (SSA).
Suu Kyi could be a shrewd choice, she is regularly labelled as the only Burman politician with any respect amongst the ethnic groups, and would offer the government virtually unimaginable kudos both inside and outside the country.
The government already sent a letter to armed ethnic groups in which it claimed they wanted to offer peace, this was however broadly rejected by members of armed ethnic groups seeing it as lacking sincerity.
“They already did it years ago, but it did not work. They still send their troops to the ethnic areas; there is still fighting every day and still human rights abuses every day. Their actions have not changed,” Zipporah Sein, General Secretary of the Karen National Union told DVB.
Indeed fighting has only increased with ethnic armed groups alleging a retinue of human rights abuses accompanying government incursions into rebel controlled territory. As a result trust will be hard sought.