Burmese Ethnic Group Calls for Political Negotiations

Posted September 27th, 2011 at 1:25 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A Burmese ethnic group says it will not end its civil war until the government agrees to seek a political solution to the conflict.

Lanyaw Zawang Hra, the chairman of the Kachin Independence Organization, spelled out his terms Monday in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Ban has been seeking negotiations to end fighting between the Burmese government and ethnic rebels, including the KIO's armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army.

In his letter, Lanyaw Zawang Hra says Burma's new government has an opportunity to “take another path” after six decades of ignoring the basic rights of Burma's ethnic minorities. But he says that, so far, the government is continuing its “old tactics of divide and conquer.”

The KIO chairman says the government attacked the Kachin and other ethnic groups in June because they refused its demand to surrender and regroup as a “border guard force.”

He says true ethnic reconciliation cannot be achieved as long as the ethnic minorities are perceived as insurgents or terrorists.

Last year Burma held its first election in 20 years, in what the former ruling military council called a step toward full civilian control. However, rights activists and several governments, including the United States, say the election was flawed and solidified military rule.

Lanyaw Zawang Hra says the council ignored all recommendations from ethnic minority groups in drafting Burma's new constitution, and banned the country's 2 million ethnic minority members from voting.

He urges the United Nations, ASEAN and Burma's neighbors to help find a way to end the civil war.