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NLD Policy on the Nationalities of
- Subject: NLD Policy on the Nationalities of
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sun, 27 Oct 1996 21:15:00
Subject: NLD Policy on the Nationalities of Burma
NLD: The attitude of the National League for Democracy regarding
the Nationalities of Burma
February 12, 1996
[forwarded to BurmaNet by NLD(LA)]
1. The Union of Burma is a country inhabited by descendants of
nationalities who migrated from the plateau of Middle Asia. The only
motherland for the nationalities such as Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin,
Burnam, Mon, Arakan, Shan....etc is Burma.
2. Hence, it is very important that there should be mutual trust and
equality in the relationship among nationalities and races of Burma. In
order to obtain mutual trust and equality in the relationship among the
nationalities, the subjective beliefs that
had differentiated us as big and small races, hill people and plains
people, should be totally eradicated and all of us must firmly cultivate a
family spirit of the Union.
3. For this, the National Leader General Aung San stated that;
"A nation can be defined as the integration of a group of people that have
endured joy and suffering together in the same way for many years. Even
though it is necessary to take into consideration significant differences
of race, religious belief, and lan guage, in fact, it mainly depends upon
their shared experience of happiness or suffering and their spirit of
patriotism." Indeed, it is very important that every citizen of the Union
of Burma should accept this statement as a guideline in his thinking.
4. Only then can we successfully establish a new democratic Union or a
genuine multi-party new democratic state, in which every nationality can
live happily. Only then shall this Union be consolidated and permanent
peace and prosperity develop among the n ationalities.
5. In order to be able to be liberated from the yoke of the colonial
imperialists, and establish a consolidated sovereign "Union" the Panglong
Conference was held by the far-sighted national leader General Aung San
and the leaders of the nationalities and
the matter was earnestly discussed.
It was decided that the relinquishment of the right to autonomy in
the hill region administration should never be permitted in any region and
that the full right of self-determination for the hill region
administration was accepted on principle.
It was also earnestly agreed upon that the people of the hill
regions should enjoy all the basic rights as granted by all the democratic
states and thereby, the Panglong Agreement was signed on February 12, 1947
and Independence was regained together.
6. Thereby, equality for all the nationalities of the Union and rights of
autonomy were agreed upon and recognized through a "Family spirit" or
7. The National League for Democracy earnestly accepts the above concepts
and is firmly determined to join hands with all the citizens to actively
establish a new multi-party democratic state and shall continue to
implement it till it is successfully acco mplished.
(The unwavering attitudes laid down by NLD towards the nationalities.)
8. As was mentioned in the constitution of NLD (Temporary) and the basic
principles of NLD (Draft) declared on October 1988, the attitudes of NLD
towards the nationalities are:
(a) Special priority shall be given to resolve the problem of the
nationalities. In resolving this problem, NLD shall strive as much as
possible to obtain the best solution based on the following principles;
(i) by recognizing equal rights for all the nationalities;
(ii) by having good will and genuine intentions towards the nationalities;
(iii) with fraternal love and mutual respect;
(iv) by abiding by the basic principles of human rights; and,
(v) with the intention to encourage the development of culture,
literature and tradition of the nationalities.
Based on the above principles, if we resolve the problem with keen
co-operation, we firmly believe that we can surely achieve our goal to
obtain peace and harmony among the nationalities in the Union. We shall
strive till we receive these aims.
(b) We shall implement the right of self-determination of the States which
is the right by birth of the nationalities that look forward to the
economic development of the respective States in harmony with the
prosperity of the Union, as we want to build a
developed "Union" firmly constructed on economic strength.
(Declaration No 9 of NLD)
9. Again, during 1989, the NLD General Secretary Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on
her nation-wide organization tour, made Declaration No.9, and explained
the general attitude and future tasks of NLD as follows: (a) We shall look
forward to the establishment of a genuine new democratic state and the
development of a favourable atmosphere, in which all the democratic rights
can be fully exercised in various fields such as political, economic and
social. (b) We shall strive for the unity of all the nationalities that
aim for peace, prosperity, development and consolidation of the Union. (c)
By accepting equal rights for all the nationalities, we shall see to it
that no nationality be given special rights or be withheld from enjoying
the rights to which they are entitled. (d) With respect to political and
economic fields, we shall look forward to all the nationalities having the
right of self-determination. (e) We shall look forward to the existence of
mutual help and co-operation in various fields among the nationalities for
the development of the Union and all the respective integral parts of the
States within the Union.
(relating to the general programme for the future)
10.(a) After successfully establishing a democratic system, a National
Consultative Convention shall be convened, similar to the Panglong
Conference, that can lay down the general guidelines to serve as a
foundation on which to build a new democratic soci ety for the future
Union ensuring peace, development, unity and equality for all the
nationalities. (b) This National Consultative Convention, with the
consent of the majority, shall decide and prescribe the matters relating
to equal rights and self-determination of all the nationalities and
self-administrative rights for small races living in the area of a big
race, having their own languages, own cultures and specific areas of
habitation. (c) The National Consultative Convention shall find ways to
end all hostilities existing within the Union, that have caused much
suffering, politically, economically and socially, for all the
nationalities of the Union and which have split the unity of th e
nationalities. (d) This convention shall lay down a concrete programme for
the development of the economy, culture, literature, and traditions for
all the nationalities and States of the Union. The said National
Consultative Convention to lay down the future guidelines of the Union is
meant to be a convention fully imbued with the spirit of the Union.
(The manifesto of NLD relating to the multi-party democracy general election)
11. After the NLD had entered to compete in the multi-party democracy
general election held in May, 1990, at that time NLD had made pledges in
its manifesto for the multi-party democracy general election as follows:-
Every nationality shall have equal rights and responsibilities. In
addition, NLD shall: (a) look forward to the unity of all the
nationalities and the development of peace, prosperity and consolidation
of the Union; (b) see to it that no nationality be given special rights or
be withheld from enjoying the rights to which they are entitled, by
accepting that equal rights be given to all the nationalities; (c) shall
look forward to every nationality having the right of self-determination
in the respective fields of politics, economics..etc in accordance with
the constitution; (d) before the emergence of a new constitution, the
"Pyithu Hluttaw" shall enact a law as an interim programme for forming the
authoritative bodies for the existing states of the Union; (e) look
forward to the existence of mutual help and co-operation in various fields
among the nationalities for the development of the Union and all the
respective integral parts of the States within the Union; (f) after
successfully establishing a democratic system, a National Consultative
Convention shall be convened, similar to that of the Panglong Conference,
that can lay down the general guidelines to serve as a foundation on which
to build a new democratic
society for the future Union ensuring peace, development, unity and
equality for all the nationalities; (g) every nationality shall have a
right to maintain and develop their own literature, languages, cultures
and traditions, and (h) all the nationalities shall have a right to take
part in matters concerning the consolidation of the sovereign power of the
Union, the unity of all the nationalities, the enhancement of democracy,
politics, economics, society, education, health and re gional development
for the whole Union.
(Consultation of the nationalities of the Union with NLD)
12. Hence, NLD won a landslide victory in the general election. After
gaining this victory, NLD aimed to build a genuine multi-party new
democratic state, in accordance with the aspirations of the nationalities.
For this, NLD met and consulted with UNLD, consisting of 21 political
parties of the nationalities. After that, NLD made a declaration on
29.8.90 relating to the nationalities. Some of the points included in this
(a) After the emergence of the "Pyithu Hluttaw" (people's assembly) this
"Hluttaw" shall form the elected government at the earliest time, then the
"Pyithu Hluttaw" shall organize to convene a "National Consultative
Convention" consisting of the represent atives from all the nationalities,
and other personages that are deemed necessary to take part in this
convention. This convention shall lay down general guidelines for the
Constitution of the State. Then, the "Pyithu Hluttaw" shall draw up,
approve, and enact the constitution of the State in compliance with the
above general guidelines.
(b) All nationalities shall have full rights of equality, racially as well
as politically, and, in addition to having the full right of
self-determination, it is necessary to build a Union with unity of all the
nationalities which guarantees democracy and
basic human rights.
13. The meaning of the term "full rights of self-determination" is in
accordance with Section 5 of the 1947 Panglong Agreement. It was accepted
that all nationalities in the hill regions have the full right of
self-determination with respect to area admin istration and that any
nationality in the hill regions shall never be allowed to lose their right
of self-administration in their respective areas.
Based on the above concepts, consultation shall be made with the
respective authorities of States, Divisions and Self-administered areas,
to distribute enough administrative powers to them.
(The attitudes of NLD relating to the affairs of the nationalities in
drawing up the constitution)
14. To draw up a well defined constitution for a genuine multi-party
democratic state, it is unavoidable that it must be based on the
democratic principles, human rights and other basic rights that the people
are entitled to. For this, the NLD has firmly stood by its pledges given
with earnest consideration. NLD shall, by any means or for any cause,
never be deviated from its pledges unless the situation has changed and a
situation report is given back to the people.
(The basic attitudes of NLD towards the nationalities in drawing up the
15.(a) Nationalities like to maintain their traditional heritage brought
down by their ancestors to be left intact. (b) They dearly love their
traditions, cultures, arts, literature, languages, religion, conduct, and
they want to maintain and uplift it. (c) They dearly love the land in
which they live and earn their living. (d) They love freedom and like to
continue to be free. (e) They want to build a society living in harmony,
enduring joy and sorrow together as members of a single family. (f) They
want to enjoy the right of self-determination.
16. By recognizing these points, NLD believes that it is necessary to
fulfil their just will. Hence it is necessary to consider their political,
economic, administrative, social ..etc affairs, expedient to the time and
circumstances, and at the same time,
the interests of implementing democracy and national unity without
disintegrating the Union must be put into consideration. The problems
should be solved with broad-mindedness through thorough discussion and
consultation until a satisfactory solution is reached.
17. If any nationality, having then own territory, own language and
suitable population within a State or division wants to have
self-administration for themselves, we reckon that recognition should be
granted for this. Regarding this issue we may probabl y need to consider
granting the forming of a Union state, self-administered state and
nationality state as deemed fit, depending on the prevailing political
circumstances of the country in the Union. If this issue arises, we reckon
that this should be res olved by using the criteria laid down by the
National leader General Aung San in the first congress of the AFPFL to
draw up the 1947 draft constitution.
According to these criteria, a nationality must have;
(a) a well defined geographical boundary;
(b) a unified language different from Burmese;
(c) a unified culture;
(d) a unified historical tradition;
(e) common interest and adequate economic condition as a group of people;
(f) a suitable population; and,
(g) a clear will to live in a separate state.
18. All the nationalities of the Union are members of the same family.
They are living under the same roof enduring joy and sorrow together. They
should be free from suspicion against one another. They should live
together in peace and harmony having perm anent unity. All the States in
the Union shall enjoy the following rights in accordance with the
constitution: (a) Self-administrative right; (b) Every law enacted by the
states must comply to the constitution of the Union, and if any law
enacted by the states contravenes the interests of the Union, the "Pyithu
Hluttaw" shall have a right to revise and rectify it.
19. Our country is formed by the integration of the nationalities such as
Kachin, Karen, Chin, Mon, Arakan, Shan..etc based on equality. There must
be no exploitation, harassment, lawless action, and attempts to outwit one
another among the nationalities.
We reckon that everyone has a right to enjoy the fruits of the country
fairly and squarely, appropriate to the physical or mental capacity he can
contribute and the zeal and endeavour he can devote.
20. We hold that every nationality must have equal rights, for freedom of
worship, and for maintaining and cultivating their languages, literature,
customs and traditions in accordance with the Constitution.
21. For building a well defined genuine multi-party democratic State, the
constitution of the State must be based on a democratic administrative
system. Therefore we hold that the respective authoritative bodies,
beginning from the "Pyithu Hluttaw" to the
lower level of different State organizations should be formed by
representatives elected by the people.
22. Relating to the formation of "Hluttaw" organizations, NLD general
secretary Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met and consulted with the UNLD on July 15,
1989. It was discussed that the formation of the Union is not for the
States to secede from the Union, but the
central government and the State governments must work together and
distribute powers and responsibilities satisfactorily among themselves.
All of us must oppose both greater nationalism and narrow nationalism.
Every nationality must co-operate to the ut most for unity among
themselves. Everyone should work together to maintain and uplift the
cultures, religions and traditions of all the nationalities.
23. Therefore we hold that on forming a Democratic Union, there must be
two "Hluttaw": (a) The first "Hluttaw," composed of elected
representatives from the respective constituencies of the people; and, (b)
the second "Hluttaw" composed of equal numbers of elected representatives
from the respective States and Divisions.
All States and Divisions shall form only one "Hluttaw." According to the
democratic system, as the sovereign power of the country is derived from
the people, the people must exercise their sovereign power in accordance
with the democratic system and they themselves must elect their
representatives and entrust them with sovereign power.
24. Relating to the responsibilities of the two "Hluttaw" we hold that
both should have equal rights for drafting, compiling, moving, rectifying,
approving and enacting the draft laws submitted to it. But for any draft
law relating to financial affairs, t he representatives of the "Pyithu
Hluttaw" should take the initiative to compile it.
25. For a smooth resolution of matters concerning the Union, States and
Divisions, it is necessary to have a serious consultation with and
satisfactory distribution of power to the Union, States and Divisions.
Therefore we earnestly reckon that a list of laws to be enacted by the
Union, and list of laws to be enacted by the authoritative bodies of the
States, Divisions and self-administered areas should be compiled and
26. In adjudication, we hold that some customary laws of the respective
nationalities that comply with the constitution should be allowed to be
enforced. But for some customary laws which are too archaic to meet the
march of time, and laws that can bring conflicts among the nationalities,
the Union "Hluttaw" should have a right to revise and rectify them.
(A summary of attitudes of the NLD relating to the affairs of the nationalities)
27. (a) A motherland Burma should be established as a "Union of Burma";
(b) The Unity of all the nationalities is the fundamental principle most
needed for our motherland Burma, which should be established by the
integration of all the nationalities, to have peace, stability,
development on all sides, prosperity and consolida tion; (c) To be able to
implement the interests of the Union and the interests of all the
nationalities, it is necessary for all nationalities to have mutual trust
and mutual help among themselves, no suspicion against one another,
through having the right of e quality. Everyone must have a right to enjoy
the fruits of the country, fairly and squarely, appropriate to the
physical or mental capacity he can contribute and the endeavour he
devotes; and, (d) For implementing matters relating to the interests of
the whole Union, it is necessary for all the nationalities to take part
collectively, and all the nationalities should enjoy the right to observe,
preserve and uplift their languages, cultures, lit erature, religions,
customs and traditions which they dearly love, independently.
28. In accordance with the above attitudes, for building a genuine
multi-party democratic State, we sincerely believe that we have; (a) To
establish own motherland Burma, a "Union of Burma"; (b) To form central
institutions, including a "Pyithu Hluttaw" and "Union Hluttaw" in this
Union; (c) To form respective "Hluttaws" for every State and division of
the Union with equal status; (d) To form authoritative bodies for
self-administered areas; (e)To form authoritative bodies for every
successive level of institution with the representatives of the people
elected by the people themselves in a free and fair election; (f) To
distribute and entrust the legislative, executive and judicial powers to
the authoritative bodies of every successive level of the "Hluttaws" and
self-administered areas; (g) In distributing these powers, in order to be
able to resolve matters concerning the Union, States and Divisions
smoothly, serious consideration for a satisfactory agreement to entrust
adequate powers to the respective institutions is necessary; especi ally,
we need to specify the exact lists of laws to be enacted equally by the
Union, States and Divisions, and self-administered areas; (h) To give
every nationality the rights to enforce their own customary laws
concerning their cultures and traditions in accordance with the
constitution of the Union, and; (I) To give independent rights to every
citizen relating to religion, everyone must have independent rights to
worship any religion they believe in.
29. The basic attitude of the NLD is to successfully establish a new Union
that guarantees peace and tranquillity, and stability in economic life to
every citizen and to ensure that every individual and nationality can
fully enjoy the rights to which they
30. National reconciliation cannot be achieved through military means. We
sincerely believe that this can be achieved only through political means.
We find that all the respective countries in this world have successfully
resolved their domestic problems only through political means.
31. In looking forward to national reconciliation, parties concerned
should not hold on subjectively to their dogmatic views. Everyone should
seek the truth by taking lessons from the weaknesses and shortcomings
evolved from sincere endeavours in the inte rests of all. We firmly hold
that we must find a just solution for individual rights and the rights to
which the nationalities are entitled and at the same time uphold the
interests of the majority.
32. Hence when the constitution is enacted, it must include points that
guarantee the democratic principle that sovereign power is derived from
the people and that people are free to chose their own destiny which can
be accepted by the majority. Only then
do we earnestly reckon that peace, prosperity and development shall
prevail in our country.
The above attitude of NLD relating to the nationalities is an unwavering
attitude based firmly on the principles laid down by NLD since it was
formed and NLD shall continue to stand firmly on this. We reckon that if
we cannot build genuine unity among the
nationalities, we cannot build a genuine democratic State.
For smooth implementation of the interests of the Union and the interests
of the nationalities, we reckon that the principles covering the above
attitudes of NLD must be included in the constitution. The reason is that
the Constitution of a State is a cov enant made between the government and
its people. Specifically speaking, national reconciliation can be attained
only when the majority of the people of all the nationalities accept the
constitution. For this, leaders of the nationalities, leaders from th e
authoritative bodies of the country and leaders from all political parties
should meet and discuss the problem. Only then do we reckon that a well
defined "Genuine multi-party democratic State " or "Democratic Union" can
National League for Democracy
Rangoon 12-February 1996