Ethnic Parties Welcome Prisoners Amnesty, Urge for More Progress in Ethnic Areas
14 January 2012: A group of five ethnic political parties have welcomed the latest prisoners’ amnesty, which saw the release of some high-profile political detainees, including U Khun Htun Oo, leader of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD).
The Ethnic Brotherhood Forum held its seventh plenary meeting on Saturday in the former capital Rangoon.
Noting recent progress in the country, the Ethnic Brotherhood Forum says it is pleased to see Burma’s international image gradually improving. But the group also highlights the continuing need for solid progress with regards to the situation of ethnic people.
“We are pleased with the recent ceasefire arrangements in some ethnic areas. But we are concerned by the ongoing armed conflict in Kachin State, which has displaced thousands of innocent civilians, despite the President’s order [to halt military offensives],” reads a statement signed by leaders of the five ethnic parties.
The parties urge the government and all parties involved to work together so that a solid foundation for peace can be laid at the earliest time.
“We would like to let the international community know that recent progresses in Burma Proper have not translated into any meaningful change in the ethnic areas. It is important that the international community doesn’t somehow treat the ethnic issue as some secondary issue because there can be no real change in Burma without first addressing the ethnic issue,” says Salai Ceu Bik Thawng, General Secretary of the Chin National Party (CNP), who attended the meeting of the Ethnic Brotherhood Forum on Saturday.
Founded in January 2011, the five-party Ethnic Brotherhood Forum has been one of the most vocal groups in the Burmese Parliament, which has been outspoken on a number of controversial issues such as the release of political prisoners, ethnic rights and armed conflicts in Burma’s borderlands.
The five ethnic parties include the Chin National Party (CNP), the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), the All Mon Region Democratic Party (AMRDP), the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), and the Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party (PSDP).