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By Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict in Southeast Asia  •  September 21, 2013

Today, in commemoration of the International Day of Peace, we, members of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict in Southeast Asia (GPPAC-SEA) express our solidarity to all the peace-loving peoples of the region particularly in Myanmar/Burma.

We come from Aceh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mindanao, Thailand and the Philippines and together with our partners in Myanmar visited Kachin State this week to see, listen and feel for ourselves– however briefly– the situation there following the collapse of a 17-year ceasefire between the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) two years ago.

While our brief visit has allowed us to learn a good deal of the core issues of the conflict, thanks to the direct and frank narratives that we have been able to hear from Kachin civil society organizations, internally displaced persons, church organizations, Kachin political leaders, businessmen and those involved in trying to bring the contending actors to the negotiating table, our understanding is far from complete.

We however believe that the situation in Kachin state and in the whole of Myanmar for that matter can be improved if the peace processes are inclusive with the active participation by civil society and of the people themselves—especially the victims of this conflict such as the internally displaced.

In our visit, we found a genuine desire by all sectors of Kachin society to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. We heard this in our exchanges with civil society leaders. We understood this in the analyses and proposals of citizen interlocutors. We perceived this in the compassion of church leaders we met. And we felt this in the poignant and blazing eyes of the IDPs as we listened to their sad and tragic stories.

We return to Yangon from our visit very much inspired and encouraged that despite the difficulties that have befallen the Kachin people; it is still their overwhelming desire for a peaceful and political solution that sparkles through. We pray that this aspiration unravels sooner than later.

While there has yet to be a palpable breakthrough in the combined efforts of stakeholders to achieve a political solution to the armed conflict, we favorably note that while we were in Myitkina, representatives of the government’s Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) was also meeting with their counterparts at the KIO in trying to unlock the impasse that has prevented the conflict actors from entering into a meaningful political dialogue to end the conflict. We were also caught up in the frenetic pace of shuttle diplomacy among the citizen interlocutors and the contending actors, and this is perhaps the ballast that is keeping the hopes of the people alive. We hope that these continuing efforts will eventually lead to more formal and actual political dialogue between the central government and the KIO.

It is apparent that the rich natural resources of this bountiful land are central to the violent conflict in this still pristine state. We hope that an acceptable solution can be found on this matter and that the Kachin people and the rest of the country will eventually be able to together savor the fruits of their abundance.

We also hope that the spirit of the Panglong Agreement, which enshrined the collective aspirations of this nation’s peoples, sweeps this beautiful and rich land, the way that the founding fathers of this country intended it to be – that this be a progressive multi-ethnic nation that celebrates diversity and protects the rights of all its peoples.

We in GPPAC-SEA commit to accompany the Kachin and other peoples of this amazing nation in their peaceful and just struggle in achieving their dreams of peace, freedom and progress. We understand that it us upon the shoulders of the peoples of this country that the responsibility for achieving peace lies, but we also feel that this burden can be lightened by the support and solidarity of GPPAC members and other peace loving peoples from the region and beyond.

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This post is in: Peace and National Reconciliation, Press Release

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