Burma Partnership, Strengthening Cooperation for a Free Burma
Signup Now!
Join our mailing list for latest news and information about Burma.

Burmese activists call for dialogue with the Junta

Originally appeared in Northern Philippine Times

February 21, 2010

By Gina Dizon
(1st of 2 Parts)

Burmese revolutionaries and activists are saying a common statement on the country’s 2010 elections. They are boycotting the 2010 elections. The common sentiment is that 2010 elections is not the answer for a democratic change in Burma, nor will it lead to national reconciliation. Instead, they want a dialogue with the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) for a review of the 2008 Constitution, release of all political prisoners, and recognition of the 1990 elections.

NDF Secretary General Min Bone Kyew who also sits as Secretary General of Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF) said, “The 2008 Constitution perpetuates the rule of military dictatorship.”

The 2008 Constitution approved in the May 2008 Referendum conducted under reported incidents of fraud, ensures 25% legislative seats reserved for personnel of the Defense Services as nominated by the Commander in Chief of the Defense Services. The 2008 Constitution provides for authoritarian military supremacy headed by the Commander in Chief who supervises the Security Council. There are four ministries directly under the Commander in Chief -National Security, Minister of Border Affairs, Minister of Home Affairs, and the Minister of Defense.

The 2008 Constitution shall be adopted by the winning party in the 2010 elections.

Secretary General Naw San of the Students and Youth Congress of Burma (SYCB) says, “The 2008 Constitution provides for the legitimacy of the Generals to stay in power. The Generals want to be ensured of their businesses and their repressive power on the lives of the people.”

With their intention to keep the military junta in power, the SPDC is also trying to get the ethnic armed forces to the Border Guard Force (BGF). Reports however say the ceasefire groups are rejecting the call of the government. This include the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) while no agreement has been reached yet between the United Wa State Army’ (UWSA) and the junta.

As part of the re-affirmed NDF statement calling for a boycott on the 2010 elections, NDF says, “The position of the main ceasefire organizations, rejecting the SPDC’s proposal to transform their armies into Border Guard Force, is the same as our (NDF) position on the matter.”

Democratic activists also call for ethnic rights and equality in the Burma Constitution.

Considering the 2008 Constitution as “ un-acceptable”, Min Bone Kyew said, “The 2008 Constitution provides no ethnic rights.”

Burma is currently made up of seven divisions and seven ethnic states namely Kayah, Mon, Kachin, Chin, Shan, Rachine, and Kayin under a junta government.

Foreign Affairs Officer Khun Francis of Kayan New Generation Youth (KNGY) adds, “Ethnic peoples are the ones who know what they need so they should have the right to have their own State Constitution and draft their own laws within the context of Federal Union of Burma.”

Min Bone Kyew, Khun Francis and Naw San envision a Federal Constitution for the Union of Burma.

The envisioned Federal Constitution drafted by the Federal Constitution Drafting Committee (FCDC) reached its second draft in October 2008. It provides for Member States to formulate their own Constitution. Each independent Member State though shall exist in harmony with the Union of Burma through the principle of power sharing.

The FCDC is composed of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), National Council of Union of Burma (NCUB), National Democratic Front (NDF), and United Nationalities League for Democracy Liberated Areas (UNLD-LA), WLB, NY-Forum and SYCB.

The struggle for ethnic identity is seen by Khin Ohmar, Chairperson, Network for Democracy and Development (NDD), as a “normal cause because there is a need for it by the ethnic population. It is important for them to have that right of self identity- to who they are and to where they belong. This overarching issue of democratic rights places a challenge to ethnic identity. If we see this holistic picture of Burma and if we have a wider perspective, we can see this as a challenge to build mutual trust among each other”, Ohmar who also sits as Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB), said.

FDB is a member of the Movement for Democracy and Rights of Ethnic Nationalities composed of 10 alliances including NYF, SCYB, WLB, NCGUB, MPU (Members of Parliament Union), NLD-LA, NDF, DAB ( Democratic Alliance of Burma), and NCUB.

Together, the Movement sees the 2010 elections , under the rule of the military’s 2008 constitution will not only fail to address the root cause of Burma’s crisis but will in fact further entrench military rule sowing the seeds for further instability and armed conflict. The Movement sees the 2008 Constitution “systematically entrenches injustice that will prolong conflict and instability in ethnically diverse Burma.”

This post is in: News Clip