Burma Must End Discrimination: ENC
02 November 2011: The exile-based Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) today calls for Burma to end the practice of systematic discrimination against the ethnic groups.
A new report entitled Discrimination, Conflict and Corruption: The Ethnic States of Burma says government corruption and widespread discrimination against ethnic peoples continue to fuel armed conflicts in the ethnic areas.
The broad-based ethnic coalition launched the report in Chiang Mai, Thailand today.
Dr. Sui Khar, Secretary-General of ENC, said: “The ‘changes’ we have seen in recent weeks have only affected the political elites, but have not had any meaningful impacts on the lives of the general populace. It is very important to think how the changes can reach people at the grassroots level.”
Burma is one of only two Southeast Asian states that have not signed two major international conventions, including the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and convention against corruption.
“If the new administration really wishes to get to the bottom of the problems of discrimination, Burma must sign the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,” ENC said.
The ENC says the resumption of war in Kachin State and the widening of conflict in Shan and Karen States show that the ethnic issue needs to be addressed not by military force but by political compromise.
Dr. Lian Sakhong, Vice-Chairman of ENC, said Burma is still faced three main problems: militarization, democratization and ethnic issues.
“Ethnic people are not fighting in the interests of economic and business purpose, but fighting to solve political problems in the country,” said the Chin scholar.
“Burma needs to solve these problems through political dialogue and a negotiated settlement,” he said.
The report is based on several dozens of interviews with ethnic peoples from Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon, Rakhine and Shan States. The report found that regardless of the existence of active ongoing armed conflicts, all the ethnic groups share a common experience: institutionalized discrimination by successive central Burmese governments.
ENC says that discrimination against the ethnic nationalities is rooted in a ‘misguided’ concept of nation building espoused by Burman leaders since the time of independence.
It argues that the introduction of Buddhism as a state religion by Burma’s first Prime Minister U Nu was further strengthened by General Ne Win’s introduction of Burmese or Myanmar as the only official language.
ENC reaffirms its stance and support for political dialogue in order to find solutions to Burma’s ‘constitutional crisis’ as it calls on the release of all political prisoners and cessation of hostilities against ethnic peoples in the country.
The Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) was originally established as the “Ethnic Nationalities Solidarity and Cooperation Committee” (ENSCC) in August 2001, entrusted with the task of fostering unity and cooperation between all ethnic nationalities in preparation for a ‘Tripartite Dialogue” and a transition to democracy in Burma.