Parties Demand Inclusive Dialogue on Union Day
12 February 2011: A coalition of 11 political parties, including several ethnic parties that participated in the November 7 elections last year, today called on the newly formed military-led Burmese government to initiate an inclusive dialogue that will lead to a peaceful solution to the 60 year-old conflicts in the troubled Southeast Asian nation.
In a joint commemorative statement issued today on the occasion of the 64th Union Day, the parties said the newly instituted government should work toward the emergence of a multi-stakeholders’ meeting that will also include armed ethnic resistance groups so that the country’s long lasting civil war can be put to an end.
Among the ‘suggestions’ put forward by the parties are for the new government to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by all people in the Union of Burma, including the rights to equality for ethnic and religious groups, full respect for civil and political rights, as well as, the creation of a truly impartial and independent judicial system.
The statement comes on the heels of the ‘presidential election’ earlier this month of the Executives of both national and state governing bodies that saw senior ex-military men occupying some of the most powerful positions in the new military-led Burmese government.
The parties signing the joint statement include the Chin National Party , Democratic Party (Myanmar), Democracy and Peace Party, Union Democratic Party, Union Kayin/Karen League, Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party, Shan Nationalities Democratic Party, Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, Wunthanu NLD (Union of Myanmar), National Democratic Front and National Political Alliances League.
On 12 February 1947, the Chin, Kachin and Shan signed a historic agreement with then interim colonial Burmese government led by General Aung san at Panglong in Shan State, a document that outlined the formation of a multi-ethnic federal form of government, which led to Burma’s independence from Britain 11 months later. That day has been observed as Union Day in Burma ever since.
“The fact that many Burman political parties are initiating and joining in this call on Union Day signifies a new chapter in Burmese politics in the relationship between the majority ethnic Burman and non-Bruman ethnic nationalities in giving new breath to the spirit of Panglong,” said Salai Ceu Bik Thawng, General Secretary of the Chin National Party (CNP).
“Up until now, it had largely been the non-Burman ethnic nationalities alone, who have called for a true Union based on the spirit of Panglong,” he continued.
The joint statement by 11 different political parties reflects a growing political alliance amongst ethnic and pro-democratic parties outside of the miltiary-backed ‘civilian’ parties. On 15 January, five ethnic political parties gathered in the former capital Rangoon echoing similar stance.
Meanwhile, the Chin Progressive Party (CPP), which shares 28 per cent seats of the three tiers of Parliaments from constituencies contested in Chin State, called for the practice of mutual respect amongst different nationalities in the Union of Burma, in keeping with the spirit of Panglong.