Friday, May 16, 2014

Why Ceasefire Process is Slow

Duwa Jee, a Kachin freelance writer, outlines in his commentary why the current peace process has to take into account the past 60 years of civil war that ravaged the ethnic people of Burma.

The ethnic nationalities of Burma/Myanmar is of the view that the ethnic armed resistance forces are desirous of ending the more than 60-year long civil war peacefully by political means, whereas the government (especially the Tatmadaw or Myanmar Armed Forces) side is intent on finding the solution by annihilation with arms.
It may be assumed that this policy has been in existence since the 7-point Road Map was laid down by the military government. It is the Second Point of the Road Map, which said, “To carry out work programs for democratization”. At the time when the national Convention was held (at Nyaung Hnapin), there was some leak of information saying that this Second Point of the Road Map meant the disarming or renouncing arms, and then some subdued information arose in response, saying that the ethnic armed resistance forces did not accept that and they protested.
For that reason, we may assume that this Phase (2) was left out and the 2008 constitution was drafted. After the Fourth Phase, which was the ‘drafting of the constitution’ was finished, the Fifth Phase, which was ‘holding the elections’ was delayed for 2 years. During this 2-year period, the government demanded the ethnic armed resistance organizations to transform their armed forces into the so-called Border Guard Force (BGF). Some accepted the transformation and some did not. The ethnic nationalities viewed this as disarming or renouncing arms.
There was the incident of Lt. Gen. Ye Myint urging the KIO to accept the transformation of its armed forces into BGF, for eternal peace. And there was the answer by him to a query that eternal peace meant renouncing arms. Now in the name of ‘area control’, offensives are launched. Without agreement by the two sides, area control cannot last. It would amount only to a contest robbing areas.
Now we hear some faint noises also that the government (especially some senior military officers) regards, the ethnic armed resistance organizations as bands of thieves, bandits and bad people, in order to cover up the more then 60-year long civil war. This is an act that makes the ethnic armed resistance forces to feel as if there is no mutual esteem, respect or recognition. It also means to be a move to deceive the world and falsify history by saying that there is no civil war but only thieves and bandits.
The probably assume that if they could disarm the ethnic armed resistance forces, they would be able to shape the ethnic nationalities in any way they like. It makes us to doubt if they are holding, with a real desire of peace, the negotiations, attended by representatives of the UN and the People’s Republic of China. It also appears that they are obsessed with the desire to end within days, the civil war, which has been going on for over 60 years.
For instance, there is a report that a military officer is saying to the effect that force will be used, if the ceasefire agreement is not signed on August 1, 2014. At a time when the ethnic nationalities are still holding arms, reports indicating that the Burman military intends to treat them as they like, have caused much concern and consequently they have to act with great caution, as they could face a much worse fate at the time when they no longer have arms.
The ethnic nationalities believe that they have to relinquish arms only after ending the more than 60-year long civil war, which is a real entity, has been resolved through political means peacefully, at the negotiation table.
This is due to the fact that before resolution of the political problems by political means in accordance with the promise given, they have to suffer several times the dirty actions of the third person or the third organization blocking or breaking the promise. (For example, the Panglong promise given by Bogyoke Aung San, the promise for federalism given by U Nu in 1962, the promise given by Senior Gen. Saw Maung to return soldiers to the barracks, Tatmadaw has no duty to draft the constitution, Tatmadaw does not want to be a culprit in history and the ceasefire agreement reached between the military government and the KIO.)
For that reason, the 16 ethnic armed resistance organizations, with objectivity, mutual respect and recognition are not likely to relinquish arms in a hurry, before the more than 60-year long civil war is resolved peacefully by political means.