Sunday, June 23, 2024

Government’s deception of Panglong Agreement prolongs ethnic armed conflict

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Saw Than Myint Vice-Chairman of Federal Union Party (FUP) said quite bluntly in an interview with Akon Thi news recently that the ethnic people have nothing to thank the late General Aung San, father of Aung San Suu Kyi, as nothing from 1947 Panglong Agreement has been fulfilled.

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Saw Than Myint – Exclusive by AKonThi

The video clip of Saw Than Myint interview uploaded has been clicked for nearly a million at this writing.

On 28 October 2013, the Burmese election commission approved the Federal Union Party’s application to enter federal politics in Myanmar. The party established by sixteen members of the Nationalities Brotherhood Forum, which contained most of the country’s major ethnic minority political parties was designed to compete with National League for Democracy (NLD) and the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in majority Burmese areas of the country. The party didn’t win any seats in 2010 general election, 2012 by-election, and the 2015 general election, which it fielded 37 candidates in Mon and Shan State, and the Ayeyarwady, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing, and Yangon regions, according to Wikipedia.  

According to Panglong Agreement, the establishment of federal union with full autonomy was to be realized after the independence from the British in 1948, which still hasn’t happened except for only lip-service, Saw Than Myint said. 

Besides he added: “Before the signing of Panglong Agreement Aung San told the ethnic nationalities to cooperate with Burma Proper or Ministerial Burma and strive for independence. If after independence they didn’t like it they could freely secede (from the union) was the phrase he repeatedly said in a lot of meetings. That’s why they believed and respected him at that time and go along to strive independence together with the Burma and in process, signed the Panglong Agreement.”

In fact, he said the Kachin and Shan didn’t want to join the Bamar-headed union but because of the trust placed on Aung San the Panlong Agreement was signed which made it necessary for Burma to gain independence. But after the assassination of Aung San and his cabinet members the Panglong Agreement and its promises were not realized and fulfilled even until today.

“We are not (obliged to be) thankful to Bogyok (Aung San) as nothing from Panglong Agreement and promises were fulfilled. Most ethnic nationalities have this kind of feeling,” he emphasized.

In the mean time in a different kind interview, Arakan Army (AA) leader Tun Myat Naing in response to the repeated statement of the government and military (Tatmadaw) that armed struggle is out of date, told Chin Cable Network (CCN) Channel insisting that without military strength the Burma Army and government won’t respect the ethnic nationalities and that military strength matters.

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Arakan Army (AA) leader Tun Myat Naing interview – Ro Nay San Lwin

“According to our experience if we don’t have military strength, we’re poorer (in political bargaining position). The Chin people should know more about it,” he told the CCN Channel.

He went on to explain that why the Bamar didn’t keep their promises and also didn’t adhere to the Panglong Agreement. When the agreement was signed the ethnic and Bamar were all colonial subjects and slaves of the British and as such the expression of equality in status were frequently being used and promoted. But after the independence the Bamar built up a militarily superior force and refused to honor the Panglong Agreement and promises for 70 years until today. Just verbally asking repeatedly for equal status isn’t working and getting us nowhere. It is evident that without military strength we cannot ask for Panglong promises.

Even among the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA)-Signatory ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), the way Tatmadaw deals with is very different Tun Myat Naing said, especially between the two big group Karen National Union (KNU), Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and rest 8 small groups with little or no military strength.

“When KNU leader Mutu Say Poe came to Naypyitaw Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing would run and embrace him, but didn’t do the same with Chin leaders because the Chin don’t have (military) strength. When the Chin wanted to meet Min Aung Hlaing even after waiting for one month they couldn’t meet him for they don’t have strength and not considered as being honorable enough,” he told the CCN Channel.

“As I said earlier even among the NCA-signatory EAOs the treatments are different, but if one is militarily strong it doesn’t even need to sign the NCA. If you’re sick Min Aung Hlaing will come to feed you his self-cooked rice congee soup,” referring laughingly to the episode of Min Aung Hlaing’s visit of United Wa State Army (UWSA) second in command Bao Yu Yi  hospitalization due to heatstroke in July 2018 when he came to Naypyitaw to attend the third 21st Century Panglong Conference.”

Tun Myat Naing was gleefully recalling the video news report where the commander-in-chief was seen serving a bowl of bird nest soup personally to Bao Yu Yi, which he referred to as  rice congee soup.

Looking at the statement of an ethnic political party leader and an EAO chief, one couldn’t help to think that they share the same common attitude regarding the behavior and characteristic of Bamar political class and military top brass, where deception and breaching of the Panglong Agreement and refusal to honor the promises that should have come with it are concerned.

While Saw Than Myint said with just being polite no political assertion or demand can be achieved, Tun Myat Naing clearly propagated for building up of military strength to assert one’s political rights.

It is likely, that while Saw Than Myint in the upcoming election in November will campaign on the broken promises, or rather deception of Panglong Agreement of the Bamar civil and military leadership past and present, Tun Myat Naing will push for more military build up and resistance, including the promotion for either confederation or secession.

A prominent writer and political analyst U Kyaw Win very recently gave an interview to Mizzima news on July 5, where he urged and warned the civilian-military regime that Panglong Agreement and promises should be fulfilled without delay and acceptable, genuine federal union established before it is too late or else a one step higher demand of confederation will become a reality.

It seems, the powers that be in Naypyitaw isn’t heeding the suggestion, as the Tatmadaw’s offensives in Arakan State is in full swing and is showing tendencies to expand and heighten the war in Kachin, Shan and Karen states, which are ongoing but with less in intensity compare to the Arakan State for the time being.

Likewise, the ethnic leaders seem to be responding in kind, if we take what Saw Than Myint bluntly said on the deception of Bamar leadership regarding Panglong Agreement; and ethnic military leader Tun Myat Naing’s commitment to strengthen military capability to wrestle back their rights of self-determination.

In sum, given such political scenarios the immediate future of Burma or Myanmar is as gloomy as it can possibly be.

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