State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi spoke to youths from rural areas of Myanmar yesterday, stressing their importance in the path toward peace and calling them the “backbone of the country”, noting that those in rural areas make up 70 per cent of the nation’s population.
The talk with the youths took place yesterday at Myanmar International Convention Centre 2 in Nay Pyi Taw, where the State Counsellor told the youths that the peace talks were always open to the groups that had not signed the peace agreement, but that it was not possible to wait for all to sign in order to hold the second Panglong peace conference.
“The groups who have already signed can be involved fully, and the groups who have not signed yet can become involved to some extent. We will give a chance for all to be involved,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.
“The most important thing is to exchange views and negotiate on different views. They have the right to see things differently, but have a responsibility to adjust. So that we can get peace based on different views and can make the same goals for peace. The country will be stable when there is rule of law. Rule of law is important for reconciliation so that it is a value for peace.”
In yesterday’s youth discussions, the people from rural areas shared their thoughts on their country.
Ko Htwe Po, a youth from Kanbalu Township, Sagaing Region, said he felt left behind in the world because there was no peace.
“Everyone is urged to work together for peace with good will and intention. My region is peaceful with good road connections and this is the result of peace. That is why I want peace” Ko Htwe Po said.
Ma Phyu Sin Pwint from Namhsan Township, northern Shan State in the Palaung Self-administered Zone, said there was much fighting in her region that hurt many people. She wanted to ask the armed groups on how to achieve peace quickly. She also wanted to ask the Tatmadaw when the armed groups will be allowed to sign.
Ma Lu Ain from Myitkyina Township, Kachin State said there is a lot of fighting in Kachin State that causes ethnic villagers to flee to refugee camps.
“Work quickly to get peace so that everyone can go back to their own place and live”, Ma Lu Ain said.
Ko Htein Lin Aung from Aunglan Township, Magway Region noted that rule of law is important to have peace.
“To achieve eternal peace, all need to work together with one blood, one voice, and one mind” he said.
Ko Khaing Min Htet from Amarpura Township, Mandalay Region, said even though the Yangon-Mandalay area has no issue with peace, fighting in Laukkai affected Mandalay with an increase in crime.
Ma Mi Aye Mon from Kyaikmaraw Township, Mon State said her area once was a black area. Now (with peace), Mon State is developing. Peace is resolving matters through discussion. Do not resolve differences with arms. Build trust by meeting at a table. We all can live together only with peace.
Ma Nan Phyu Hnin Thet from Hpakant Township, Kachin State said, “I am also a member of the public so I want peace as soon as possible. Without peace, transportation is difficult here, and we are economically behind. I feel that we are plummeting lower each year in my own village, let alone the cities. Recently kindergarten classes have opened up and school supplies are being sent but due to the difficulty of transportation they are still not here yet.”
Ko Hlaing Min Soe from Einme, Ayayawady Region, said “farmers in our region cannot return agricultural loans to the government this year as rice plantations were damaged by the floods. Meanwhile, the price of paddy is declining due to instability in border areas. To improve the socio-economy of farmers, the government should set the price for paddy.”
Ko Thar Maung from Laukkai Township, Kokang self-administered zone, said: “Armed conflicts are happening because of misunderstandings between ethnic groups. I think the political road to peace needs to be discussed between ethnic brothers and sisters with a real want for peace in mind. Frequent clashes happen in Kokang, and since we are a mountainous landscape our main business is agricultural work. People are still unable to return to their homes and villages. Some even have overgrown sugar cane fields that have been lying for 3 years.
Ma Thein Thein Ei from Kyarinseikgyi Township, Kayin State, said her region has a long history of violence but has learned the benefits of peace.
“We desire peace. Kayin State suffered casualties from war for 60 years. However, ever since we united with armed groups within our state in the cause for peace we are reaping its benefits slowly but surely. In the past there was difficulty in commerce, society, education and transportation due to conflicts and regional development was abysmally slow. But now with unity in peace efforts, we were able to link roads between communities and cities for better health, education and social development.”
Ko Kun Soe Maung from Taunggyi in Shan State said he believes the youth of the country is its future.
“It’s hard for us to call ourselves highlanders right now. The region we’re living in doesn’t have the smell of gunpowder or the sound of firearms but my heart aches for our brethren. Our heart aches when a Shan suffers. Our heart aches when a Kayin suffers. Our heart aches when our ethnic brethren all over Myanmar suffers. There are those who fled the region, both legally and illegally, due to war or failure in their agricultural work. Appointing graduated ethnic youths in government departments can influence other ethnic brethren to contribute to peace efforts too. I believe the union government will be able to fulfil this.”
In concluding, the State Counsellor encouraged everyone to work toward peace without giving up by seeking solutions and by questioning and listening to each other until arriving upon a solution.
“I trust in success because of the strength of the people”, she said.