GENUINE PEACE: The Wish of Ethnic Nationalities from November Elections Outcome

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On the eve of the 8 November election, roughly about four to six scenario focus has been making the rounds.

news_opinion_sai-wansaiOn 6 November, Myanmar Now and BBC publicized a series of post-election scenarios. The former  has a likely outcome of six, while the latter has four scenarios.

The combined gist of it could be listed as below:

  • The NLD needs to win two-thirds of all the contested seats and will only be achievable if it wins large numbers of seats outside the areas dominated by the ethnic Bamar, the dominant group in Burma.
  • If the NLD fails to win the required two-thirds of the contested seats, they will have to reach out to “friendly” ethnic parties. This should be relatively straightforward, though relations have been strained by the NLD’s decision to run candidates in ethnic minority areas.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi’s party win the most seats, but a coalition of the USDP, some ethnic parties and the 25% of the army enables the military candidate to take the presidency.
  • USDP winning the most seats is an option so unlikely that most would immediately assume that the results had been rigged. Ms Suu Kyi’s party would almost certainly walk out of parliament.
  • The worst case scenarios will be that the NLD performs poorly amid evidence of widespread intimidation, interference with the voting process and voter fraud. International election observers declare the election results non-credible.
  • Suu Kyi calls on voters and the international community to condemn the results and to mount pressure on the government. She seeks political avenues to challenge the results while urging her supporters to remain calm.
  • Or alternatively, an overwhelming victory by the NLD prompts a backlash by reactionary forces, including military hardliners, the Buddhist nationalist Ma Ba Tha movement and USDP supporters. The groups start to foment instability across the country.
  • In both scenarios, with the increased likelihood of civil disobedience and wide-scale civil revolt, the military declares a state of emergency under the guise of securing stability. It uses its power to suspend the Constitution indefinitely and establishes a military administration. It says it will return governance to quasi-civilian rule only when it can assure the country’s stability. (Sources: Myanmar Now & BBC , 6 November)

What the non-Bamar ethnic nationalities want

While the most Burmese are eyeing for more individual freedom and democracy to replace the quasi-civilian regime of Thein Sein, dominated by the military, the non-Bamar ethnic nationalities and minorities are burdened with an extra duty to strive for the rights of self-determination and wrestle back their rightful, justified political power and resources sharing, couple with maintaining their ethnic identities, the right to live as decent human beings free from oppression and military occupation.

As all know, the Bamar-dominated Burma Army or Tatmadaw has been occupying and oppressing the ethnic nationalities, under the guise of national unity and protecting the country’s sovereignty,  for as long as we could remember and there is really no hint that this will be coming to an end soon.

The recent ongoing partial-ceasefire, dubbed nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) is a fraud and this is not going to lead to any sort of peaceful reconciliation, without genuine political will and forsaking ethnocentrism from the part of the Burmese center.

The fact that out of 100,000 ethnic armed troopers, only some 10,000 have signed the partial-ceasefire is the case in point. And even though the present regime has time and again publicized that it will continue to solicit and woo the remaining ethnic armed organizations to participate in its   initiated NCA, its escalation of war on the Shan, Kachin, Palaung and Kokang ethnic forces indicates just the opposite of its real intention.

We also don’t need to emphasize much on decades long human rights violations in ethnic homelands for there are ample documentations by internationally known rights groups, from extra-judicial killings, rapes, tortures, disappearances without traces to unjustified detentions are widespread, needless to mention about thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons, who are waiting to go home.

But if the present or the new in-coming regime would really like to right this wrong, that has been going on for decades, the best place to start is ending the “ institutionalized violence” against the ethnic population and the organizations that represent them.

The immediate pressing need

Thus, the immediate pressing need is to remove the obstacle of waging an institutionalized war on the ethnic nationalities, so as to make a start on basic requirement of a peaceful atmosphere, which have been lacking in the ethnic homelands, embroiled in armed conflict caused by the successive Bamar-dominated governments, Thein Sein regime included.

Thus the election outcome wishes for the ethnic groups would be, without doubt, a durable, long-lasting and implementable nationwide ceasefire, not a fake two-tier war and peace situation, like it is now.

In this respect,  the ethnic groups would heartily welcome any national government formation that could deliver the said conditions.

The reality of the occupation wars occurring in ethnic homelands have its origin in the fact that the Burmese political class, whether it be the military or Burmese opposition groups, refuses to accept  the fact that it is also an equal party with the other non-Bamar ethnic groups and not their overlord, within the Union; and that the country’s sovereignty is also a shared one with all ethnic nationalities residing within the Union and not a monopoly sphere of the Bamar only. In fact, the independence achieved from the British in 1947, is also a co-independence shared between the Bamar and non-Bamar ethnic nationalities.

If this doing away with the institutionalized violence or war could be done, then we will all be able to defuse the armed conflicts that have been going on and sit down to actually talk about the equitable power and resources sharing. But first and foremost the war has to be stopped, by all means.

Sai Nyunt Lwin, Secretary of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, rightly said in a recent DVB debate, moderated by Myo Thar Htet, that unilateral ceasefire declaration is the only way out of this deadlock. He must have meant to say that  it is the sole avenue, to overcome the perception of Burmese Army’s intention to subjugate the ethnic groups, through suppression and occupation of their homelands. And only after this, a serious negotiation, on rebuilding the shattered confidence and equitable federal union could begin.

For now, the EAOs and the ethnic nationalities could only hope that the next incoming government could deliver real peace and brings the unruly military under its control, if earnest peace and reconciliation process are to begin.

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