By Htay Tint, Blog Writer

In 1947, The First Panglong Conference was held at Panglong in Myanmar. The father of Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK), the current leader of Myanmar, met with ethnic minorities to discuss their concerns, which led to the formation of the Union of Burma after independence from the British. The First Panglong conference fabricated an important agreement of political autonomy and equal rights among ethnic Bumese majority and ethnic minorities until the military take over of 1962.

Nearly 70 years later, The Second Panglong Conference was held, this time hosted by ASSK herself, who most people of Myanmar call “Mother”. ASSK, who is believed by many people to be the only one who can bring the vast majority of the rebel groups to  Naypyidaw, arranged this conference only 5 months after taking power.

This 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference is an important milestone in the advancement of peace and national reconciliation in Myanmar. Although the success of the peace talks depends on ending the ongoing conflict, there are still ongoing clashes. As a result, many people believe that peace will only come when the involved groups walk the walk as they talk the talk. For example, General Min Aung Hlaing, commander in chief of Myanmars armed forces, ordered attacks on some ethnic groups, particularly in Kachin and Shan states where some groups have failed to put down their weapons as had been demanded by the military as a precondition for them to attend the conference. Furthermore, there is a pivotal problem of the Rohingya, and what many have labeled as crimes against humanity being committed against them in the western state of Rakhine.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, while in Myanmar, called on the country’s leaders to improve living conditions for its Rohingya Muslim minority. He said that “Like all people everywhere, they need and deserve a future, hope, and dignity. This is not just a question of the Rohingya community’s right to self-identity.” Annan’s visit to Myanmar and ASSK is a response to international pressure regarding ongoing ethnic conflict in the country. The group was carefully formed of 9 members, includes three international representatives, four Buddhist and Muslim members from Myanmar, and two Myanmar government representatives.

 

Despite the promising nature of the conference, this time around will not involve any political discussions. Instead, the Conference will talk through how to establish a harmonious, federal and peaceful Myanmar for future meetings, likely to be held in the near future. 

 

Still, many challenges lie ahead. Most of the people, both within Myanmar and in the international community believe that ASSK is the one and only who can bring all players together to work for a peaceful future by creating new opportunities for all.  By that, her 88 Comrades, overseas students who always put her on their shoulder since 1988 movement, call on her to expand participation in the conference and  allow in its dialogue cooperation and reconciliation for the representatives of economic stakeholders, student groups, women’s groups, L.G.B.T.Q groups and the representatives of the high school students to learn with the leaders of towns and cities, specifically the old and experienced ones, so that we all witness this historical event.

To learn more about STAND Canada’s regions of focus, see the “Conflict Regions” section of our website by clicking here.

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