[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
CEASEFIRE AND DIALOGUE 'LL NEED THE
Subject: CEASEFIRE AND DIALOGUE 'LL NEED THE BROKER (REPOST)
/* Written 28 Aug 6:00am 1996 by drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
/* --------------" Evaluating the state of Cease-fire "-------------- */
EVALUATING THE CURRENT STATE OF CEASE-FIRE
>From the Bangkok Post/Sunday Post report of 17 March 1996, the five
proposal rejected by SLORC at the second round of cease-fire talk on
February 1996 are:
1. Slorc declare a nation-wide ceasefire;
2. Villagers forcefully relocated be allowed to return to their place of
abode and to allow NGOs to help settle these villagers;
3. To permit open and free discussions, and hold conferences when necessary
with Karens in the country;
4. To allow the UN to supervise and monitor troops of both sides when the
ceasefire is in effect; and
5. To discuss basic issues plaguing the country such as politics, the civil
war and national peace and reconciliation within 30 days after reaching a
A far more serious obstacle is the SLORC's demand that the Karen National
Union should lay down arms once KNU returned to the "legal fold"(that is,
as soon as KNU signed the cease-fire, see the report below).
1. Most of the problems in the cease-fire negotiation with SLORC appears to
be the "attitude problem". For example, while SLORC itself has been
claiming to have achieved ceasefire with almost all other groups around the
country, one still wonder why it cannot declare a nation-wide cease-fire.
This fact shows a particularly small-mindedness of SLORC leaders: the SLORC
leaders do not want to give the Karen National Union a political leadership
on this issue.
Present policy of making separate cease-fire with the ethnic groups is the
continuation of "divide and conquer" tactics that has been employed against
the Democratic Alliance of Burma since 1993. One could understand the SLORC
refusing to declare a nation-wide cease-fire only in this context.
>From my personal view, the primary objective - whether SLORC declare a
nationwide ceasefire or not - is to get the unhindered access for the
international humanitarian organization to all the cease-fire affected
areas. Places like Kachin State in the north to Mon State in the south and
also to Shan and Karenni States, there should be some cease-fire monitors.
2.& 4. If the ICRC is allowed to monitor the cease-fire, the UNHCR/NGOs
can be requested to supervise resettlement and repatriation of the
returnees/internationally displaced people. Programs for rehabilitation
and developments can start only after the cease-fire conditions holds.
The UNHCR can be also of assistance to the retraining/rehabilitation
of former soldiers. For example, the UNHCR program can be sought to deals
with politically sensitive tasks, such as demobilization and
demilitarization. Such initiatives for rehabilitation will be necessary
for the former rebels as well as for the government soldiers. The
pro-democracy forces should take a long views to the time beyond the
cease-fire; and eventually looking towards the goals of transforming
themselves to political parties that are suitable to operate in a federal
state. Transforming the armed forces/rebel forces into normal workforce is
important for Burma's long term stability.
Once again, these steps - demobilization and demilitarization - can only
take place when the political problems are settled and at a time enough
confidence-building has been done. These measures must be taken step-by-step.
The SLORC demanding Karen National Union to 'lay-down-arms-first' is totally
un-reasonable: it's like asking one to make "a chicken before an egg".
3.& 5. One way or the other, to solve the cease-fire problem cannot be
separated from the problems of writing the constitution. Unless
SLORC made progress on the talk with National League for Democracy about
national convention, there may still be difficulties on the cease-fire
front. There has to be a guarantee about the participation of ethnic leaders
in drafting the constitution. From recent posting of BurmaNet's interview
with U Tin Oo(NLD) suggest, the people within National League for Democracy
welcomed the participation of ethnic leaders in drafting constitution.
The main problem, then, rests on the decision of SLORC's leaders.
The reason the National League for Democracy walked out of Convention
on November-1995 is because of the SLORC imposition of its guideline:
namely to "Enshrine the leading role for military in future Burmese
politics". Although power-sharing of the military and civilian opposition
- the National League for Democracy - may be considered for immediate
future, to put the military a permanent-leading role in the constitution
is impossible. A much fair-minded attitude is still needed in the part
of the military leaders.
To have observers in National Convention is also important. The presence of
observers in such Convention by itself do not amount to interference to the
national politics. The role of observers is to create an atmosphere of
trust and confidence for the civilians and ethnic minorities alike. The
SLORC's reluctance to admit outside observers' presence in National
Convention is a simple lack of vision and imagination by its leaders.
MIS-CONCEPTION ABOUT THE POLITICS
Often neglected factor by most analysts in dealing with SLORC is the
intellectual mediocrity of SLORC leaders. As U Tin Oo (NLD) has pointed out
in his interview, the SLORC leaders do not have the capacity to understand
issues like human rights, democracy and politics. Only some member of SLORC
seems to have vague idea of what are the issues in discussion. While nobody
was to be blamed, this mediocrity happened because most elder-SLORC leaders
have grown up in war time and went through the period of a dictatorship.
Therefore, they simply do not have an idea of how an alternative system - a
civil society (non-government, social and political organizations), the free
press or, even, an independent judiciary - will function. The other factor
attributing to this mediocrity is, for few decades under General Ne Win,
the Burmese army has effectively eliminated first-class & bright officers
who could pose a leadership threat to General Ne Win. In this context, one
can understand the SLORC's bewilderment about the politics in general.
Some intelligent responses made by the SLORC media do not exactly reflect
the thinking of its leaders. These responses are usually made by some
civilian-underdogs who in no position have access to SLORC inner circle.
It is even doubtful that SLORC's foreign minister - who is a civilian -
has a proper channel to its leadership. A common practice (i.e. the
authoritarian trait) in Burma - especially in the military establishment -
is the boss "know everything" and the rank-and-file must be subservient:
the staff-members must not complain or question about any decision made by
Generals. Therefore, the chances for intellectual input into
decision-making process of SLORC leadership from its own staff-members are
also much reduced.
While the SLORC leaders discredit Aung San Suu Kyi and democracy advocates
as the foreign "lackeys" and "puppets" that are acting on alien's advice,
the reality is SLORC themselves have many times - so many times in fact -
failed to listen to the voices of their own countrymen. The mediation by
foreigners, especially from the West, has also been refused because of
xenophobic tradition (and rhetoric).
Political negotiation (or) discussion need broad-minded people who
also know the issues. In this sense, one can understand why people are
complaining about SLORC do not listen to anything and making little progress
towards political negotiations. The quiet diplomacy, which ASEAN countries
advocated, usually fail to produce result because of this simple reason.
Although the Government of Japan has reasonable influence on the present
military leaders, it still much doubt that such influence would be enough
for SLORC to make genuine concession for a federal democracy. Recent
developments of renewed arrest of NLD workers and the army's movement
within the Karen State clearly indicate that SLORC is not in the
spirit of reconciliation.
WE NEED PEACE-BROKER
Whenever there are those who refusing to listen to reasons, there also
have to be the "arm twistings". SLORC actually isn't immune to the
international pressure. Previous experience with SLORC suggest that the
pressure from U.N. and international community is vital in bringing the
military leaders to negotiation. The first meeting of SLORC and Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi in September 1994 is to be taken as an example. We must
continue to advocate the U.N. and international community to broker peace
With best regards, U Ne Oo.
REUTERS: WEEKEND ATTACKS COULD MEAN CONFUSION
November 11, 1996 (abridged)
RANGOON, Nov. 11 (Reuters) - The weekend attacks on Burmese
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's motorcade may signal a
change or discord in the military government's efforts to
contain the democracy movement, diplomats said on Monday.
They said the attacks appeared to be at odds with statements
earlier this month by officials in the State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC), who said they were trying to
improve relations with Suu Kyi and the democracy movement.
'What happened Saturday afternoon is a 180 degree switch
from what we saw earlier this month,' one diplomat said.
A senior government official said on Monday the attacks were
acts of sabotage from which the government had nothing to gain.
But diplomats said there was no doubt the government was
involved to some extent in the incident.
'It's inconceivable that this could take place without the
knowledge of the government,' one diplomat said.
He said that on Saturday there were about 2,00 young men in
well-organized groups milling about near the Nobel peace
laureate's house, outside barricades erected by the military
government to prevent her from giving weekend speeches to
Diplomats said the men were from townships near Rangoon and
were paid to come in and cause unrest.
'The main point is they were brought in by the government.
And some of these men were those who attacked the convoy
containing Suu Kyi,' one diplomat said.
Other diplomats said they were not sure if the attacks were
a sign of a change in tactics by the SLORC, or a signal there
was some disagreement in the government over how best to deal
with Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
'It seems like this could be a new tactic,' another diplomat
said. 'But it could also show there are conflicting signals
coming from the SLORC.'
The SLORC has been fighting a poor image abroad.
It has been repeatedly condemned by Western nations and
human rights groups for suppressing the democracy movement.
Since May it has arrested and released nearly 1,000 NLD
members or supporters in a crackdown against the movement.
'Why would they want to put all this effort into improving
things then let this happen?' one diplomat asked.
KNU will continue talks with Slorc
INTERVIEW: The Karen National Union leadership give their
views of the recently concluded third round of ceasefire
negotiations with the State Law and Order Restoration
Council, the ruling Burmese military regime in Rangoon.
The council, the ruling Burmese military regime in Rangoon. The
eleven-member delegation held talks for three times with
Slorc in late June in Moulmein, the Mon State capital
in late June in Moulmein, the Mon State capital.
Could you explain the latest ceasefire talks with Slorc, What is
your view? How would you assess the whole situation?
Gen Bo Mya: We have still to reach a ceasefire agreement. Slorc
is still insisting that we lay down arms once we return to the
"legal fold". This, of course, is out of the question as far as
the KNU is concerned.
We understand a ceasefire pact is to help resolve the problems
that exist between the KNU and Slorc. And the main issue here is
a political settlement. This is the crux of what the Karen
revolution is all about.
For us to agree to a ceasefire, Slorc must first agree to concede
to whatever political concessions are necessary. Only then we
would be able to come to terms with them.
What are the terms, this time, agreed upon? What does Slorc want
and what are KNU terms or proposals?
Gen Tamalabaw: We have submitted 12 proposals. First, for a
complete ceasefire. This is our basic principle. We tried to
propose without any preconditions that we discuss the related
principles in achieving such an agreement.
Clauses like returning to the "legal fold" and laying down arms
should not be included in the agreement. Also we believe the
ceasefire should be a nationwide affair. After this is agreed
upon we are willing to sit down at the table. This should be a
step-by-step process in which all parties and groups in the
country should participate.
On the other hand, what they are demanding is a complete
ceasefire followed by regional development, after which a promise
of disarmament from the KNU. This, of course, is not acceptable
to us. These are the points of contention between the Slorc and
the KNU. Slorc has assured us that our proposal would be taken
into consideration and will be further discussed when both sides
meet again in the near future.
Do you have any plans to lead the next delegation to the talks?
Gen Bo Mya: No, not at the moment. However, should they in one
way or another indicate that they truly want genuine dialogue
which would lead to a permanent ceasefire, then I might
consider leading the team. Is there any possibility of reaching
an agreement with Slorc in the near future?
We cannot say right now. We will continue to negotiate not once,
twice or three times, but until they come to fully understand our
position. If they can't then they only have themselves to blame.
What did Gen Khin Nyunt have to say during your brief encounter?
Gen Tamalabaw: What he said was Slorc has been striving to
achieve nationwide peace. And because of these peace efforts many
of the armed ethnic forces have come to an understanding with
Slorc. He said the KNU should seriously consider the peace
And what did you to have to say t that?
We have' been working toward achieving peace since a long tim,
ago. [Gen Tamalabaw was present a the very first peace talks in
1963 during the era of the Revolutionary Council headed by Gen Ne
Win]. I have now come again to attempt to establish a genuine and
lasting peace. I told him that it was impossible to come to terms
all at once, and also that it would be impossible just for Slorc
and the KNU alone to achieve peace. Genuine peace would only be
possible if all parties concerned are involved in the talks.
The KNU already have principles laid down in finding lasting
peace a long time ago. But our approaches [peace process] differ.
However, we could gradually work toward coming to an
understanding to reach our objectives.
Where do the talks stand now compared to the second meeting in
Padoe Mahn Sha: We carried on where we left off during our last
meeting based on the important points of the 12-point proposal
such as a nationwide ceasefire and finding a political
settlement. However, to abandon the armed struggle and return to
the "legal fold" are two issues that are unnecessary to talk
about at this stage. We have never even considered them for
discussion. The topics discussed during the second and third
meetings are basically the same. But one significant development
was the meeting this time round was more cordial and open.
Do you take this as in indication of a thaw in the relationship
between Slorc and the KNU?
Yes could call it as such.
Who were your Slorc counterparts during talks in Moulmein?
Team leader Deputy Director-General of the Military Intelligence
Col Kyaw Win, Col Kyaw Thein, Lt Col San Pwint, Lt Col Myo Myint
(G1), Maj Myo Myint (MI5), Col Khin Maung Kyi (MI25), Capt Kyaw
Thura who was accompanied by Col Kyaw Thein from Rangoon, and
Deputy Divisional Commander (Southeast Command) Major Gen Aung
Did the delegation make an attempt to meet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
during your visit to Rangoon?
Gen Tamalabaw: We would love to meet her. However, as soon as we
arrived we were told to stay away from Daw Suu, and all embassies
even before we could put in for such a request.
As one of the participants of the first peace talks in 1963 and
now a member of the latest, what differences do you see in the
approach and style?
The negotiation process is different. But the principle remains
the same. We [then] returned because we failed to reach an
agreement. They [then] said that if we wanted to continue with
the negotiations we would have to be restricted to a designated
grid line [area]. Nothing has changed since then. Their terms are
still the same.
When are the next round of talks scheduled?
We have agreed to continue with the negotiations. However no
specific date has been set.
What message do you have for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi?
Gen Bo Mya: We believe what Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, one way or
another, is working toward restoring democracy to the country. I
must say what she is doing is in the best interests of the
people. So it is imperative that she continue with her work
until democracy is returned.