By Zin Linn
Burma’s political deadlock between the ethnic rebels and the consecutive governments has been still hanging on. Burma’s military leaders, who have been holding governmental power thus far, strongly defy the decentralization of authoritative power. Although the contents of the cease-fire agreements seem to grant some degree of self-rule, it appears to be very difficult to arrive at a blueprint for self-determination that would make happy most ethnic rebel groups.
Recently, Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’ spokesman Sai Lao Hseng said its representatives had made the point clear to its Naypyitaw counterparts Saturday, 17 December, that the non-secession clause included in previous agreements with 3 other armed movements would only hinder the peace process Naypyitaw had initiated, Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.) reported Tuesday.
“On the other hand, we have no problem with the regime’s ‘Three Causes’,” he said. “We had co-founded the Union and we are willing to give it a chance, if the regime is sincere about building a genuine union.”
The said Three Causes are Non-disintegration of the Union, Non-disintegration of National Solidarity and Perpetuation of National Sovereignty. It is the regime’s political devotion similar to a religious faith.
“How we will decide upon continued union will depend on the wish of the people which will in turn depend on the regime’s sincerity,” Sai Lao Hseng explained. “For that, we would need time to meet and listen to the people.”
According to the Shan Herald Agency for News, some more SSA sources also said that after the signing of the ceasefire on 2 December the next step is to discuss development. Political topics such as the secession issue should be reserved for the third and last step of the process.
The government negotiators had promised to hold an inclusive conference for political issues resembling Panglong in 1947. At Pang-long meeting Burman, Chin Hills, Kachin Hills and Federated Shan States agreed to form the Union, on the basis of full autonomy in internal administration including Democracy and Human Rights.
The result of the 1947 agreement proved unconstructive when it reached ten years in 1958, after gaining independence from the British in 1948. Many ethnic armed rebellions, including that of the Shan, broke out to stand up for autonomy. The 1947 constitution had granted the right of secession to Karenni and Shan States.
Despite the fact that the Supreme Executive Council of the United Hill Peoples was making an effort to amend the union constitution in 1961-62 to reconstruct a true federal union with the Premier U Nu’s Government of Burma, Burma Army led by Gen. Ne Win made a military coup on 2 March in 1962 and smashed the Panglong agreement. In that way, all ethnic states including Shan had been occupied by the treacherous Burma Army.
And so, the country has been run by successive Burmese military dictators using various disguises up to the current date. To reconcile this political crisis and prevent ethnic conflicts in the future, it should be solved by way of meaningful political dialogue vis-à-vis equal status mutually. True reconciliation cannot be done by way of military might which currently used by the Naypyitaw government.
Earlier, the SSA South had adopted the principle: ‘To struggle for the rights promised at Panglong’. It later became ‘Total Independence’. Its later statements show that ‘unless the rights of Panglong are guaranteed, the group would never give up on Total Independence principle’.
According to Modern Journal, the information minister Kyaw Hsan confirmed during a media meeting in Rangoon on 9 December that out of remaining ten armed groups, two have already signed state-level ceasefire agreements. Two others are holding talks at the union level and five others have agreed in principle for a ceasefire agreement. Only the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) remained to reach an agreement.
The next meeting between the Restoration of Shan State (RCSS) and Naypyitaw’s union level peace building team will take place on a yet-to-be chosen date in next January, quoting spokesman Sai Lao Hseng, Shan Herald Agency for News said.
The political disarray of Burma originated with its beginning since the Panglong agreement came into view in 1947. As a major ethnic group, the Shan constantly called for putting in a point of ‘secession’ for the Shan State to nine-point Pang-long agreement. As a result, if sign of treachery occurred, ‘the right of secession’ after ten years of the contract was granted to the Shan State in the 1947 constitution.
The United Wa State Army (UWSA), National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) and the ex-DKBA Kloh Htoo Baw have already signed non-secession agreements with Naypyitaw.
However, SSA-South reminds the government, putting the non-secession clause in the to-do list would make hindrance the peace talks.