Burmese Lawmakers Back Government Peace Efforts, Warn Against Disunity

Posted August 9th, 2011 at 6:50 am (UTC-5)
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An open letter from 23 Burmese legislators urges everyone interested in ending the nation's ethnic conflicts to avoid actions that could undermine the country's unity.

The letter, published in state media Tuesday, comes less than two weeks after an open letter from pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which appealed for the government and ethnic groups to begin immediate peace talks. Government forces began an offensive in June against several ethnic-based militias, including the Kachin and Shan.

The 23 signers of Tuesday's letter identify themselves as people's representatives and national races representatives in the new parliament seated earlier this year. They say the government of President Thein Sein leaves no stone unturned in its efforts to restore peace through negotiations.

But the letter says the government must take a firm stand against the disintegration of Burma's national solidarity. It claims that armed groups embracing genuine goodwill have already achieved peace.

In her letter two weeks ago, Aung San Suu Kyi said ethnic harmony is of “utmost importance” to Burma, and that all sides will suffer if force is used to settle the conflicts. Her letter was addressed to President Thein Sein and organizations representing the Kachin, Karen, Mon and Shan minorities.

Most of the ethnic militias in Burma signed a cease-fire with the central government almost two decades ago. But those agreements began to break down in 2009, when Burma demanded that the militias come under central authority and serve as part of a national border guard.