Suu Kyi Calls for End to Armed Hostilities
28 July 2011: In a rare open letter addressed to the new Burmese president and ethnic resistance groups, pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday called for the immediate cessation of all armed hostilities across Burma, saying the ongoing conflicts have only brought devastation to country.
The statement followed several weeks of renewed armed conflicts in Burma’s northern and eastern borders and a breakdown of a 17-year-old cease-fire between the Burma Army and some of the strongest ethnic armed groups, which have forced thousands of civilians to flee to neighboring countries such as China and Thailand.
Cautioning the conflicts have serious regional security implications, the 66 year-old popular leader urged all the parties to pursue political negotiations so that genuine national reconciliation can be achieved.
“The use of force to resolve the conflicts is only going to be mutually harmful to the parties involved,” said leader of the 1990 election-winning party.
Victor Biak Lian, head of the Strategic Studies Department of the Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC), welcomes the statement: “It is very encouraging that Aung San Suu Kyi has spoken out on the issue at a time when the country is at risk of plunging into a full-scale civil war.” He said that only a face-to-face political dialogue and not ‘confrontation’ will lead to genuine peace in Burma.
In recent weeks, the Burma Army has stepped up military offensives against the Kachins, Shans and Karens resulting in casualties on both sides and the mass displacement of ethnic civilians.
Aung San Suu Kyi has written many letters to the authorities in the past asking for political dialogue to move the process of national reconciliation forward. However, this was the first time the 1991 Nobel Peace Laureate has addressed both the Burmese authorities and the ethnic resistance forces in the same letter.