Sunday, June 23, 2024

The peace process: 1878 history needs no repetition

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IN 1878, Burma’s last most popular and revered King Mindon passed away at the age of 70. He had 62 consorts that had borne him 110 children. Thus the stage was set for a bloody crisis for succession.

Queen Sinbyumashin

The palace at that time was divided on the question of who should succeed Mindon. They however were forced to agree to the choice made by the head queen Hsinbyumashin, Thibaw, her son-in-law, through whom she reportedly aimed to direct the affairs of the country.

The rest of the children were then summoned to the palace under the pretext of having the last audience with the dying king.

They were all detained and executed under cover of noisy theatricals held for the purpose.

That palace massacre left the country helpless against British invasion which came 7 years later.

Recalling the tragic affair, the country’s respected monk U Nyannisara was reported to have commented that placing personal interests over national interests was the reason the once mighty country had lost her sovereignty.

These days the country is once more facing a similar, if not identical, situation. The whole country, particularly along its frontiers, which cover some 60% of its territory, is clamoring for an end to war and a return to peace.

But leaders, not all, on both sides, jockeying for power, appear to be prioritizing their personal dreams over peace. While some appear to be calling for support for themselves “if you wish the peace process to move on,” others seem to be saying, “Wait for me and you’ll get a better bargain.”

The situation has prompted one from the government side to admonish, “Peace is bigger than any individual in the country”, while on the non-Burman resistance side, leaders like Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong are saying: “It is a mistake to delay the peace process just because we either like or dislike a certain party. It is not appropriate to gamble peace with politics. Make a visit to a refugee camp, take a look at children born in the war zones. One year for them is a very long and difficult one. It would therefore make life easier for them if we can bring peace to them as soon as possible, be it an hour , a day, a month, or a year earlier.” (Eleven News, 19 October 2014)

Clearly, our leaders are singing different songs: “It’s now or never” on one side and “We have all the time in the world” on the other.

Let’s hope both sides reach agreement soon to sing the same song, for the sake of the country and the long-suffered people.

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