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February 28, 2018

Lessons from other countries need to be applied to bring peace to Myanmar

Panelists participate in the “Transition from war to peace” session of the Forum on Myanmar Democratic Transition. Photo: MNA

U Aung Kyi, the adviser to the Peace Commission, said Myanmar is building a positive peace with freedom, equitable development and human rights and dignity, taking lessons from other countries to bring peace to Myanmar.
Five speakers spoke of the challenges in a session entitled, “Transition from war to peace: Conflict Resolution, Reconciliation and the building of an inclusive multi-national state” during the Forum for Myanmar Democratic Transition being held over this weekend in Nay Pyi Taw.
Panelists said lessons should be learnt from history and from other countries in the drive to bring peace to Myanmar.
As he explained, peace is very fundamental. Negative peace is practiced as the absence of war. But what they aim for in Myanmar is the positive peace without violence, with human rights and dignity.
“Positive peace is a process which can be reached through strong commitment,” he said.
He said it was necessary to act very quickly to find a lasting peace.
He also stressed the importance of power balance between two groups: one supports the democracy and one supports the administration in the past before the democratic transition: arouse after the transition.
Daw Zin Mar Aung, Member of Pyithu Hluttaw, said still there is no active and good link betwen MPs and peace making process, stressing the important role the hluttaw in the peace process.
“MPs are the agents of the people representing the people, talking to people and explain the people what is happening,” she said. U Aye Maung Kyaw, Senior Consultant, Center for Myanmar Affairs Studies, noted the peace process had been going on for five or six years and it was now called the 21st Century Panglong, in reference to the 1947 Panglong talks prior to the country’s independence.
He said we have to learn from history in order to prepare for the future.
In theory, the peace process should be smooth but in practice, in the negotiations, there were many problems, and different opinions and perspectives.
Daw Ja Nan Lahtaw, Director, Nyein Foundation, stressed that civil society needs to be involved in the peace process.
Ranga Kalansooriya, Department of Government Information of Sri Lanka, admitted that his government had only achieved ‘negative peace’ through a military solution that ended in the decimation of the Tamil Tigers.
“We have defeated and crushed the Tamil Tigers militarily. But the Tamil cause for political autonomy has not been demolished,” said Ranga Kalansooriya. German professor Aurel Croissant stressed the need for the transformation of a war economy to a peace economy as key to democratic transition in Myanmar. “It is not so much a question of transformation from a socialist command economy to market economy in Myanmar. The key to democratic transition is to transform a war economy created by 70 years of civil war into an economy of peace,” Croissant said. Indian author Subir Bhaumik, responding to the presentation, unveiled the Indian strategy of ‘using peace negotiations as an instrument of war.”
“The Indian state has perfected the art of killing insurgent movements on the negotiations table. Look at the Naga peace process, that has now gone on for 20 years without any solution in sight,” said Bhaumik, author of “Troubled Periphery: Crisis of India’s Northeast.”
He said that the Indians use a combination of reconciliation, economic inducements, use of force, and divide-and-rule to wear down the armed groups.
“The Indian state never appears to be in a hurry to sign agreements with armed groups. They just want ceasefire and ensure there is no resumption of hostilities. It is the rebels who want a settlement sooner than later,” said Bhaumik.
Col Aung Myint Oo of the National Defence College asked Kalansooriya about the challenge of maintaining both humanitarian laws and tight security related special laws in conflict zones.
“That is a really difficult to reconcile. Very often both state and non-state actors violate these laws,” Kalansooriya said.
He referred to the famous white flag case when Tamil Tiger rebels trying to surrender with white flags were all killed. “Such measures makes the conflict even more bitter,” Kalansooriya said.


GNLM with Mizzima


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