Over 100 representatives from a range of political parties and civil society organizations in Shan State attended a meeting in Shan State’s capital Taunggyi today to discuss the upcoming 21st century Panglong Convention. The special convention which is expected to be held some time in July is being convened by Burma’s State Counsellor and National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi. This will be a follow-up to a meeting convened by her father in 1947 that was attended by representatives from the Shan, Chin and Kachin communities.
The agreement reached at Panglong in 1947, stipulated a significant level of autonomy for Burma’s ethnic groups in exchange for their decision to support Aung San’s bid for independence from Britain. Aung San, was assassinated just months after the agreement was reached, his successor U Nu, did little to implement the agreement before he was overthrown by General Ne Win in 1962. The subsequent military regimes that ruled Burma also disregarded the commitments made by General Aung San at Panglong.
Today’s seminar, which focused on national reconciliation, the peace process, democracy and federalism, was organized by the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU), an organization comprising of Shan parties and armed organizations which Khun Tun Oo, leader of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) is also the chairperson.
Sai Lek, a spokesperson for the SNLD and one of the meeting’s organizers, said that the meeting was being convened in order to prepare discussing issues of equal rights of Shan State’s people to the national conference.
“The main goal is to build unity among all ethnicities in Shan State,” he said. “This is a first for Burma to hold this political conference after 70 years. It is very important for ethnic nationalities equal rights, autonomy, as well as constitutional amendments.”
“In order for us to get a chance for constitutional amendments at the political conference we (ethnic nationalities) have to discuss and support the matter,” he added.
The two-day meeting, which began today, was attended by nineteen political parties and eight civil society organizations from Shan State. In addition to the SNLD, representatives of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) also attended as did members of the NLD and the military backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
On May 29th, representatives from nineteen political parties in Shan State held a meeting in Yangon and formed a committee called the League for Shan State Ethnic Political Party (LSSEPP).
BY SAI AW / Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)