[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
SECESSION AS AN ETHNIC CONFLICT RES
- Subject: SECESSION AS AN ETHNIC CONFLICT RES
- From: shan@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 25 Nov 1998 22:01:00
Subject: SECESSION AS AN ETHNIC CONFLICT RESOLUTION: THE CASE OF THE SHAN
X-MIME-Autoconverted: from quoted-printable to 8bit by igcb.igc.org id VAA29860
X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Pro Version 3.0.2 (32)
SECESSION AS AN ETHNIC CONFLICT RESOLUTION :
THE CASE OF THE SHAN STATES
Dear fellow netters:
Following is the text of the presentation given by Wansai, Vice President - 2
of the Shan Democratic Union today at the Barcelona Conference on Right
It is reportedly attended by Mr. Alvaro de Soto, Assistant Secretary General
of the United Nations.
Shan Democratic Union
SECESSION AS AN ETHNIC CONFLICT RESOLUTION : THE CASE OF THE SHAN STATES
Presented by: Sai Myo Win
Generally speaking, the outcomes of implementing the Right to
Self-determination fall roughly into two categories, depending on whether
this right is understood in a strong or a weak sense. While the strong
sense insists that a nation be given statehood, the weak sense only
requires that a nation be given some form of self-government. Weak national
self-determination is thus compatible with a multinational state in which
nations are given some political autonomy. It is clear that the weak notion
of self-determination can encompass differing degrees of
self-determination, including confederations, federations, consociational
democracies, and unitary states with sub national autonomy - that is,
regional parliaments, local governments and so on.(1)
It is the strong type of outcome, or rather "secession", that has the most
controversial impact on today's global political landscape. Thus, existing
nation-states stonewall developments in this direction, making use of
accepted norms of "non-intervention" and "territorial integrity" to protect
their vested interests in preventing dismemberment of their national
territories. Regardless of such unfavorable conditions, the literature on
self-determination is growing at an alarming rate. This is, of course, due
to a lot of related factors which have been reinforcing and complementing
one another. These are the successful implementation of self-determination
in former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and so on, which has
helped heightened the flames of ethnic upsurge; the end of the Cold War and
the formation of "New World Order" leading to the reassessment of moral
values, involving accommodation of self-determination; the rising influence
of non-state actors and growing awareness among the general population
regarding human rights violations around the world; and the accessibility
of new information technology which are instrumental in keeping the
general public adequately informed; just to mention a few major
developments happening within this decade.
However, the intention and scope of this paper is a very limited one. The
first purpose is to try to put the argument forward that "secession" or
"ethnic separation" should be regarded as an alternative to national unity,
which would contribute to the resolution of ethnic conflicts. And secondly,
to encourage the United Nations and the international community to go
beyond the barrier of presently accepted decolonization procedures based on
the "salt water doctrine", so as to be able to implement a more practical
decolonization process to cover the whole spectrum of colonialism in its
truest and fullest sense, and all its aspects.And thirdly, to help
formulate the formation of international law, which might be able to
address the right of self-determination, including the right of secession.
The scope of this paper will be to discuss selected works of some
political scientists with special regard to theoretical aspects of
"secession", which in turn, will be later used to shed some light on the
right to self-determination of the Shan people.
THEORETICAL ASPECTS OF SECESSION
Before starting on the theoretical aspects of secession , it will be more
appropriate to briefly discuss and justify the working definitions of
"nationality", "right to self-determination" and "secession".
2. 1. NATIONALITY
Defining a "nation" is not an easy task and different interpretations have
been advanced by political philosophers and academicians alike, leading to
considerable dispute. However, one very common and plausible account
maintains that a group of individuals constitute a nation if they define
themselves as such and if they share a common culture and history. (2)
A more agreeable and precise definition can be found in the Covenant Of
The Unrepresented Nations And Peoples Organization, Article 6(a): ? A
Nation or People shall mean a group of human beings which possess the will
to be identified as a nation or people and to determine its common destiny
as a nation or people, and is bound to a common heritage which can be
historical, racial, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious or territorial.
A section of a people constituting a minority, living on a portion of its
ancestral territory, incorporated into a State other than a State
represented by that People, is included in this Article's definition". (3)
The most practical definition of a nation probably is that of the most
eminent of contemporary students of nationalism, the late Hugh
Seton-Watson, and it resembles that of Renan. Seton-Watson wrote that after
a life time of study he was "driven to the conclusion that no `scientific
definition´of a nation can be devised; yet the phenomenon has existed and
exists. All I can find to say is that a nation exists when a significant
number of people in a community consider themselves to form a nation, or
behave as if they formed one. It is not necessary that the whole of the
population should so feel, or so behave, and it is not possible to lay down
dogmatically a minimum proportion of a population which must be so
affected. When a significant group holds this belief, it possesses
`national consciousness´." (4)
2. 2. RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION
The right to self-determination is the right of peoples to determine their
own destiny. In particular, the right allows a people to choose its own
political status and to determine its own form of economic, cultural and
social development, free of outside interference. Exercise of this right
can result in a variety of different outcomes ranging from political
independence to forms of autonomy or association to full integration within
a state. (5) Self-determination is an accepted and established human right
and is fundamental to all other rights. (6)
The highest level or the strongest sense of national self-determination is
"secession". A community secedes when it breaks away from its present state
and founds its own independent state. Secession thus involves the creation
of a new state with sovereign jurisdiction over its citizens. (7) Various
ethnic groups who see themselves as nations seek statehood for a variety of
reasons that range from a sense of exploitation in the larger multiethnic
state; the belief that greater prosperity may be obtained by breaking away
from the existing state; the belief that national aspirations cannot be
fulfilled without statehood; the need to follow other ethnic secessions in
a disintegrating state; (8) and intolerable human rights violations and
genocide committed by the dominating ethnic groups.
2. 3. THEORIES OF SECESSION
Since it is not possible to include all the theories of secession advanced
by various scholars and political scientists, summarized versions of the
selected works of a few analysts have been presented to obtain an overview
of the theories of secession.
2. 3. 1. ALLEN BUCHANAN
According to Allen Buchanan, two basic theories of the right to secede may
be identified as Remedial Right Only Theories and Primary Rights Theories.
While Remedial Rights Only Theories assert that a group has a general right
to secede if and only if it has suffered certain injustices for which
secession is the appropriate remedy, Primary Rights Theories assert that
certain groups have a general right to secede in the absence of any
injustice. Once the focus is aimed at institutions, and hence on the
importance of states, the Primary Rights Theories are deficient according
to the criterion of minimal realism; are not consistent with morally
progressive principles of international law; and create perverse
incentives. By failing to take institutional considerations seriously in
attempting to formulate a right to secede, analysts have produced theories
that do not assist to build a humane and effective response to secessionist
The Remedial Right Only Theories also allow that there can be special
rights to secede if (a) the state grants a right to secede ( as with the
secession of Norway from Sweden in 1905), or if (b) the constitution of the
state includes a right to secede ( as does the 1993 Ethiopian Constitution
), or perhaps if (c) the agreement by which the state was initially created
out of previously independent political units included the implicit or
explicit assumption that secession at a later point was permissible (as
some American Southerners argued was true of the states of the Union). If
any of these three conditions obtain, one can speak of a special right to
As an advocate for the principle of territorial integrity, Allen Buchanan
sees that it serves two fundamental morally legitimate interests; the
interest in the protection of individual security, rights, and
expectations, and the interest in the integrity of political participation.
(11) But it has to be accompanied with what he termed as "The Morally
Progressive Interpretation of the Principle of Territorial Integrity", as
opposed to an "absolutist" interpretation of this principle. While an
absolutist interpretation makes no distinction between legitimate and
illegitimate states, extending protection to all existing states, the
progressive interpretation applies only to legitimate states. States are
not legitimate if they (a) threaten the lives of significant portions of
their populations by a policy of ethnic or religious persecution, or if
they (b) exhibit institutional racism that deprives a substantial
proportion of the population of basic economic and political rights.
Clearly, an absolutist interpretation, which has little to recommend it, is
inferior to the progressive interpretation (12)
2. 3. 2. DARREL MOELLENDORF
>From the perspective of the demands placed upon the state, the most extreme
form of self-determination is secession. A claim to self-determination
through secession is a claim both to a separate sovereign legal structure
which would carry out the governance of a new state and to some territory
upon which the state would exist. Darrel Moellendorf argued that a prima
facie right to secede is defensible on liberal grounds, and this is not
just a remedial right, but it is constrained by other considerations of
justice. The interest of individuals in being governed by state structures
to which they consent and the value of one´s cultural membership together
make up the basis for the justification of the right of nations to secede.
Addressing the question of the right to secede requires invoking a second
value in addition to the consent of the governed. This is the value of
cultural membership. According to Will Kymlicka, the liberals should
recognize cultural membership as a primary good. His argument involves two
main claims. The first is that in addition to the pursuit of one´s
conception of the good, liberals usually recognize the fundamental value of
the ability to revise rationally one´s conception of the good. The ability
to revise rationally one´s conception of the good has traditionally been
seen by liberals to require the freedom of speech and association as well
as a liberal education which provides the requisite information and
psychological capabilities. Kymlicka´s second claim is that in order for
individuals to make rational revisions in their life plans, they require
not only freedoms and education, but also a context in which life options
have meaning to them. This context is the cultural structure in which ways
of life get presented to them. Such a cultural context is then a necessary
condition for a fundamental value of liberalism. In addition Kymlicka
argues that one´s own culture is important because cultural structures are
not easily replaced. (14) If a members of a nation no longer wished to be
governed by the current state, and the nation did not have the right to
secede, then the members of the nation would be unable to satisfy both
their interest in being governed by a state to which they consent and in
maintaining their culture. (15) However, in justifying and implementing the
right to secede, the legitimate security and material interests of the
citizens left behind must be enumerated. These include the following:
the security of the state before hostile forces;
the legitimate claims of the state to resources; and
the legitimate claims of the citizens of the state to distributed resources.
In addition, those residing in the territory claimed by the seceding nation
must be assured that their rights are secure. These include the following:
the human rights of the residents of the area claimed by the new state; and
the equal political rights and privileges of all citizens, including
national minorities, in the new state. (16)
2. 3. 3. SIMON CANEY
The central claim advanced by Simon Caney is that the national
self-determination and secession are legitimate because and to the extent
they promote the well-being of the members of a nation. (17) The argument
makes three claims:
Political institutions that further people´s well-being are pro valuable.
An individual´s membership of a nation furthers his or her well-being.
A nation state can best further a nation´s culture.
Therefore, national self-determination is valuable. (18)
The first claim that a political arrangement that furthers people's
well-being is valuable is plausible. People clearly care about their
well-being and their quality of life and generally on this basis it would
be implausible to devise a political system that fails to promote this
The second one is more controversial. The claim that a person's membership
of a nation furthers their well-being is, however, supported by two
considerations. First, as Will Kymlicka has emphasized in much of his work,
individual freedom requires that individuals have a choice of different
conceptions of good to pursue and this, in turn, requires a culture which
instantiates an array of conceptions of the good. Individual choice thus
requires the existence of a rich and varied culture. Furthermore, for most
people this role is played by their national culture.(20) Thus, as Avishai
Margalit and Joseph Raz argue, members of a nation draw on their culture to
select ways of life instantiated in that culture. A national culture is
therefore an important source of conceptions of good. (21) Secondly, one
can plausibly argue that belonging to a community is one element of a
fulfilling life. We all value being a part of a community and for many
people membership of a nation is an important source of well-being. They
take pride in the achievements of their nation and wish to see their nation
flourish, where this might involve anything from supporting their nation's
music, literature, poetry, sport and pastimes and/or protecting their
historic monuments and countryside. For both these reasons, then, national
cultures further people's well-being. (22)
The third claim is that self-governing nations are best suited to promote
national cultures. This is also supported by two arguments. First, as
Margalit and Raz point out, national self-government is defensible on
instrumental grounds as the institutional framework most likely to promote
the interests people have in their national culture.(23) The reasoning
underlying this claim was that, unlike multinational states, nation-states
have both the incentive and the ability to foster their nation's culture
and heritage. Members of a nation are more concerned than outsiders to
further their own culture and consequently politicians in a nation-state
will have a greater incentive to promote that nation's culture than would
politicians in a multinational state in which that nation is a minority. In
addition, because they have political autonomy they can implement political
measures to protect their national cultures : they can thus use public
subsidies to support their national heritage or, like the French state, can
protect their cinema industry and media from being dominated by American
The intrinsic argument also supports the third claim, where the promotion
of a national identity necessitates its embodiment in political
institutions. A nation-state has symbolic importance for a national culture
which a multinational state cannot provide. (25) The value to people of a
political recognition of their identity can be tremendously important. Thus
both the instrumental and the intrinsic arguments provide support for the
claim that national self-government best promotes a nation's culture and
way of life. (26)
To sum up: the "well-being" argument maintains that a person's membership
of a nation furthers their well-being (providing a menu of choices and
being a component in many people's well-being) and it also maintains that
national self-determination is required in order to promote national
cultures. Hence, national self-determination is valuable. (27)
However, to justify the secession of nations from multinational states,
other values and moral claims of other people have to be taken into
account. It suggests that any plausible account of national secession must
contain two types of precondition.
An internal constraint : the new state must treat its citizen justly. This
requires, for example, that it respects the political and economic rights
of the minorities within it.
An external constraint : the new state must also honour its international
obligations and thus treat non-citizens justly.This condition has two
implications. First, is to honour the rights of stateless persons and
citizens of other states and observe international principles of
distributive justice, in order to gain legitimacy of national secession.
Secondly, national secession may be illegitimate if its occurrence would
destabilize other just political arrangements.(28)
2. 3. 4. JAN TULLBERG & BIRGITTA S. TULLBERG
They argue that ethnic separation should be regarded as an alternative to
national unity, and not simply dismissed as impossible. A decision on
separation or unity should be made democratically by the group whose
separation has been proposed. (29)
An inability to distiguish between the two opposed principles of
internationalism and ethnic separatism would be less serious if it were not
closely coupled to the problem of war and peace. As many brewing conflicts
have an ethnic basis, the lack of a consistent moral approach to this
problem is serious indeed. Since the end of World War II, between 7 and 16
million people have been killed in ethnic conflicts (Gurr and Harff, 1988).
Why the deficiency exists is easy to explain: in the absence of safe and
simple solutions, it is tempting to fall back on a disguised opportunistic
flexibility - we lend full support to diametrically opposed principles, and
then jump back and forth between them. (30)
A great drawback of the separatist concept is that it rarely advances a
viable solution to the problem it addresses. The dissatisfied minority
ceases to be a minority in the new state, yet new minorities arise, showing
that the essential dilemma has been resolved only in the eyes of extreme
optimists. When it comes to carving regions out of the old state,
separatism always has high hopes. However, since the seccessionist movement
will strive to incorporate as many of its supporters as possible, few from
the old minority group are likely to end up on the wrong side of the new
border, but many from the old majority group probably will. This is
especially likely because majority groups frequently migrate into a
minority's historical homeland, and historical borders play a key role when
a new state is formed. Thus, separation recreates the old problem with
reversed roles : the new state inherits a significant minority from the old
majority group. Serbs number more than half a million in Croatia and 1.5
million in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and there are 25 million Russians outside
Russia. If separatism is to solve the problems it claims to cope with, its
perspective must be adjusted. The sacredness of a given border is seldom
obvious. Since both the former border and the new "rightful" one are the
result of coercion and war, strong grounds for changing the status quo are
required. As with any change, a qualitative improvement should be demanded
to justify the cost and trouble involved. (31)
A separatist solution is analogous to a divorce. As warmly as we advocate
living in harmony and mutual respect, a breakdown in pratice means that it
is presumably better to divide the domain than to endure unity dominated by
conflict. Like a private household, national property is then a stumbling
block to be divided. Under present day procedures, separatists typically
receive either nothing or too much. The majority group does not necessarily
lose by getting a smaller country - it gains if a long term, peaceful
solution is established, in which it avoids the problem of a (rightly or
not) disaffected minority. Despite the loss of territory, then, both states
may actually benefit by having a united population. Even if a border is
drawn as proposed above, some people will find themselves on the wrong side
of it. A model to solve this problem could consist of three principles:
° each state is responsible for accepting people of its own nationality;
° each state is entitled to evict members of the other group; and
° each individual may emigrate to the "right" state. (32)
As for deciding upon separation, a simple majority democratic judgement
should not be considered sufficient. This decision is fundamental, and
therefore deserves a two-third majority, as is required for constitutional
amendments in many countries. By the anology with divorce, it should also
be enough that one of the parties wants out. (33)
2. 3. 5. ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST SECESSION
To sum up : Arguments have been advanced for and against the right of
seccession on moral grounds. (34) Secession may be morally justified to
protect liberty; to escape severe economic exploitation; to preserve one's
culture when it is in danger of being eliminated; to serve as an instrument
of self-defense against state-organized violence against the ethnic group;
and to rectify an unjustified or illegal annexation. It may also be
justified because there is inherent merit in the right of ethnic groups to
exercise self-determination. Conversely, secession may be opposed on moral
grounds to protect the legitimate expectations of the rest of the people,
which may be jeopardized by the seccession of one group; to provide
self-defense if secession makes the remnant state economically nonviable;
to protect the principle of majority rule, which may be jeopardized if
those who do not agree are allowed to secede; to preserve a state in which
there has been no serious political or civil violation of a minority group;
to prevent anarchy through the domino effect, whereby the entire state may
unravel; to prevent the seceding territory from wrongfully bolting with the
heavy central government investments in the region; and to ensure that the
haves who simply wish to separate themselves from the have-nots for no
other reason than that they are rich and the rest are poor do not do so. (35)
SECESSION : THE SHAN STATES AS A CASE STUDY
Before proceeding with the right of secession with a special focus on the
Shan States, it will be more appropriate to briefly look into its
historical background. Although the claims of self-determination encompass
all the ethnic groups, including the Shans, which are part and parcel of
the present day multiethnic state, Burma or Myanmar, as the ruling military
regime likes it to be known, the aim of this paper as stated from the
outset is to highlight the secession issue of the Shan States. As such, the
relating claims of other ethnic groups will only be discussed generally
within the framework of the right to self-determination as a whole without
exhaustive indepth study. The reason for choosing the Shan States is only
due to familiarity and accessibility of related documents, to this writer.
3. 1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The Shan States is situated in the north-eastern part of Burma, bordering
China, Laos, Thailand and the Karenni State. It lies at an average of 2,000
feet above sea level and the hightest point, Mount Loilaeng, is 8,777 feet.
It covers a surface of 62,500 square miles (160,000 sqm). Bisected north to
south by the Salween river, the Shan States is composed of broad valleys
and pine and evergreen forests.
The population is estimated at 7 - 8 million, the majority of whom are Tai.
The spoken languages are Shan mainly, but also English and Burmese.
Theravada Buddhism is the predominant religion, although Hinduism,
Christianity, Islam and animism flourish too. The main agricultural
products are: rice, tea, tobacco, vegetables and opium. Rich also in
mineral resources and abundant in timber, the Shan States has the potential
for a self-sufficient economy.
The history of the Shan people goes back to 650 BC, when they are said to
have migrated from China to present day Burma and the Shan States. By the
end of the 13th century, the Shan ruled all of Burma (then called Ava
Kingdom) and by mid-14th century they had created an empire which stretched
to Yunan of China in the north, Tenasserim of Burma in the south, Assam of
India in the west and parts of Laos and Thailand in the east.
At the end of the 16th century, the Shans were defeated by the Burmese and
fifty years later by the Chinese, thus bringing an end to the Shan
monarchy. Even so, the Shan had been recognized by both the Chinese and
Burmese as a separate entity. In 1887, the Shan States became a British
protectorate. In 1922, the Shan were granted a distinct status and the
?Federated Shan States" were established by the British rulers.
The historic Panglong Agreement in 1947 between Burma and the Shan States
paved the way for the "Union of Burma Constitution", which followed their
joint independence from the British in 1948. The "Federated Shan States"
became "Shan State" when the Union with Burma was formed. And it reverted
to its old name when Burma's generals staged a coup and abolished the Union
Constitution and occupied the Shan States in 1962. Since then, the Shans
have been waging a resistance movement against the Burmese military
oppression, striving for self-determination. (36)
3. 2. TERRITORIAL RIGHTS
If historical claims coupled with centuries of continuous settlement within
an internationally recognized boundary can be accepted as territorial
rights of a people, the Shans, definitely, have an undisputable claim to
the mass of land which is presently called the Shan States.
According to historians, the (Tai) Shans lived as an independent people,
south of Yangtse river in China, round about 650 B.C. Certain descendants
of those (Tai) Shan people are said to have migrated into Burma and Shan
State.Their kin, descended from the same ancestors, now inhabit northern
Assam, Yunan, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. The (Tai) Shan people had been
gradually pushed south, at about the start of the Christian Era by the
advance of the Tartars. About 650 A.D. the (Tai) Shan people established
the famous kingdom of Nanchao. During the years 736 to 754 A.D. the Nancho
(Tai) Shans extended their rule into the upper basin of the Irrawaddy River
and came into contact with the (Pyu) who were then rulers of the Upper
Burma plains. Trade and commerce and internal and external relations
developed through these contacts with Nancho and with China. Even in those
days, some Shan ventured beyond Upper Burma into Lower Burma to mingle and
live together with the Mons.
Even before the fall of the Nancho Kingdom, the Shans has crossed Upper
Burma to established the once powerful Ahom Kingdom
The Shans moved into the area now known as the Shan State and settled down
and were well established by the time King Anawrahta ascended his throne.
The (Tai) Shans tried desparately to defend their city and their kingdom of
Nancho from the Chinese attackers, but finally in 1253 the Kingdom fell
into the hands of the Chinese. The Shans unwilling to live under foreign
domination, moved towards the south in strength, to seek freedom. They
joined up with Shans already in the area, and in 1262 took over Chiengrai,
in 1296 Chiengmai and in 1351 took Ayuddhya, and established their own
kingdoms. In Upper Burma the Shans established the kingdoms of (Mong Kawng)
Mogaung and (Mong Yang) Mohnyin, and in the Shweli basin, the Mao Kingdom.
Thus, it is fair to conclude that the Shans have inhabited the area called
Shan States, since time immemorial and are the legitimate and rightful
owners of the territory.
3. 3. THE PEOPLE OF SHAN STATES AND THE SHAN NATION
In defining the term "people", the United Nations Education, Scientific and
Culture Organization (UNESCO) and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples
Organization (UNPO) are almost identical. In 1990, the UNESCO-mandated
committee of experts came out with a definition in its final report of a
people as "a group of individuals which enjoy some or all of the following
a common history;
racial or ethnic identity;
religious or ideological affinity,
common economic life."(38)
Furthermore, the UNESCO report also shares the UNPO position that "the
group as a whole must have the will to be identified as a people or the
conciousness of being a people."(39)
The Shans satisfy most of the criteria mentioned above, which have long
been accepted norms by the international establishment. The most crucial
and indispensible characteristic, perhaps, is their consciousness of their
own identity and their assertiveness of the will to exist. Moreover, if the
Thais and Laos, who stem from the same ancestor, migrated to the south and
formed respective countries, and could be termed as nations and peoples,
there is no reason to leave out the Shans or Tais as a nation and people,
and they should be accepted as such.
3. 4. AN INDEPENDENT STATE UNDER MILITARY OCCUPATION
The country we all know as Burma or Myanmar, as termed by the Burmese
military regime, is a country made up of at least three countries, namely:
Burma Proper, Karenni State and Shan States. The Shan and the Karenni
joined Burma in their struggle for self-determination from the British and
jointly attained independence on January 4, 1948. However, in 1962 the
Burmese military sized state power in a coup and declared the Union
Constitution abolished. In so doing, the Burmese terminated the only
existing legal bond between them and the other ethnic nationalities. The
declaration of the suspension of the Constitution was in effect a self
denunciation that Burma had overnight become an aggressor-nation instead of
partner. Thus, in a legal-constitutional sense, the Union of Burma ceased
to exist. (40)
The Burmese military regime has been attempting to hold the defunct union
together with scant success by sheer military force, whilst the real and
only solution is political. The Shan and the Karenni on their part have
been waging a war of resistance to free themselves from the yoke of Burmese
domination. This is also true for all the other non-Burman ethnic groups,
who are being subjected to the Burmese military's Burmanization and forced
assimilation policies. The only difference is that while the Shan and
Karenni conflict with the Burmese military could be argued as
"international", the conflicts of the other ethnic groups are termed as
"internal", due to the fact that the Shan and Karenni joined the Union of
Burma on an equal political footing, with both nations being granted the
right to secede after a trial period of ten years following the attainment
of joint-independence from the British. All the rest of the areas were then
considered as part of ministerial Burma.
3. 5. HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, LEGITIMACY AND THE RIGHT TO SECEDE
The United Nations' Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his speech on the
Occasion of the Week of Solidarity with Peoples of All Colonial Territories
Fighting for Freedom, Independence and Human Rights states the
interrelatedness between self-determination and human rights as follows:-
Ultimately, the struggle for independence, for self-rule - for the right of
a people to be a master of it own destiny - is the struggle for human
rights. Let us therefore remember that while human rights begin with
independence, they do not end there. It is the solem duty of all new
nations - whether in Africa or Asia - to honour their independence by
rewarding their peoples with genuine human rights for all, including the
right to development and all civil and political rights. (41)
The issue of the legitimacy of the states and governments is outlined in
the UNPO Statement On Self-Determination as below:-
States exist for the sole purpose of fulfilling three fundamental tasks: 1)
to protect the population of the state; 2) to promote the economic , social
and cultural welfare of that population; and 3) to represent the interest
of that population externally, that is, internationally.
Where a state, or its government, does not fulfill these functions over a
period of time, but instead represses or even kills the people it is
supposed to protect; destroys their culture, economically exploits them; or
represents other interests other then those of the people, then that state
or government lacks legitimacy in respect of the whole population of the
state or that section of population which it oppresses. (42)
The right to secede is beautifully expressed by J. M. Mukhi in his speech
titled: The Right to Self-determination and International Responsibility.
There has been debate and discussion as to what is the ambit of this
phrase: "the right to self-determination". Does it include the right to
secede? Of course it does. There is a god-given right to secede. A people
remain in political association, whether a confederation, a federation or a
unitary state, by consent and under certain basic assumptions. When these
assumptions are belied, when they are subject to tyranny, to intolerable
treatment, of course they are entitled to break free. (43)
In this connection, it is imperative to highlight the atrocities and human
rights abuses of the Burmese military regime in the Shan States., which in
turn, will illuminate the illegitimacy of its rule.
The Burmese military is one of the most notorious regime still in power and
its atrocities and human rights abuses have gained so much attention that
international bodies such as the United Nations, the International Labour
Organization and European Union have been condemning it on a regular
routine basis, year in and year out. The Burmese military regime on its
part has become so accustomed to such condemnations that it neither cares
nor does anything to improve its human rights violations' records. Instead,
it goes on with its regular routine of ethnic suppression and crime against
humanity, which seems to be the only policy it can think of to maintain
power. It will, of course, be impossible to list its wrong-doings in this
short presentation. Thus, only a summarized version of the regime's human
rights abuses within the Shan States is presented here, although it is by
no means the only ethnic group that has to bear the brunt of the Burmese
military's atrocities in an area known to the world at large as Burma.
Population displacement and forced relocation in the Shan States are not
new. They have been common occurrences since the Burmese Army first came to
the Shan States in 1950 on the pretext of driving away the Chinese
Nationalist KMT, who were pushed into Shan States from Yunan Province of
China by Mao Tse Tung'' troops. All kinds of human rights violations were
committed by both the Burmese Army and the KMT alike.
The situation became worse after the military seized power in 1962 and
resistance forces sprang up all over Shan States. In their attempts to
crush the forces of the opposition, one of the strategies of the Burmese
Army has been the "Four Cuts" operation aimed at cutting the food, funds,
intelligence and recruits provided by local villagers to the resistance
armies. This often involved forcing whole village tracts to move to
strategic sites which could be closely guarded. Throughout the past thirty
years, large areas of Shan States have been repeatedly disrupted in this
way. However, the massive forced relocation begun by the SLORC in the
Central Shan States in 1996 and continuing up to this day is totally
unprecedented in scale.
Since March 1996, the Burmese military regime has forcibly relocated over
1,400 villages throughout 7,000 square miles in Central Shan States. Over
300,000 people have been ordered to move at gunpoint into strategic
relocation sites. No assistance has been provided to them.
The relocation program has intensified during 1997 and 1998, with new areas
being forced to relocate, and existing relocation sites being forced to
move again. Vast rural area of 11 townships have been turned into
depopulated "free-fire" zones.
During 1997 there was a sharp increase in the number of extrajudicial
killings by the regime's troops, with repeated massacres of villagers
caught outside the relocation sites. In one township alone, SHRF has
documented the killings of over 300 relocated villagers.
The villagers in the relocation sites are used for forced labour by the
junta's troops. They must work as porters, build roads, and perform tasks
such as digging ditches or building fences at the nearby military camps
without food or pay.
As a result of the relocations and the attendant human rights violations by
the Burmese military against the Shan villagers, some 80,000 of them have
fled to Thailand. (44)
Apart from all such abuses, the Burmese military regime is employing a
special tool of war against non-Burman ethnic populations : the rape of
non-Burman ethnic women.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Burma stated in January, 1998 that Burmese
troops have been abucting "increasing numbers of women , including young
girls and the elderly" who have become victims of rape and other abuses.
Based on his report, the UN Commission on Human Rights Resolution on Burma
of April 1998 expressed "deep concern" about violations against women in
Burma, "in particular forced labour, sexual violence and exploitation,
The Shan village of Kaeng Kham in Kunhing was rocked by this epidemic of
military rape. According to a 1996 Shan Human Rights Foundation report,
sexual attacks at Kaeng Kham village often occurred at night after the
village men left for work at a local logging company. The highly specific
report states that : "A platoon of troops from LIB 519, led by Sergeant Hla
Phyu are stationed at Kaeng Kham village. At night, while the men were
away, Sergeant Hla Phyu and his men repeatedly raped the women, going from
house to house. Every adult women in this small village has been raped."
A 1997 Shan Human Rights report documents the mass murder of dozens of Shan
women and girls after being gang raped by Burmese soldiers. According to
the report, on September 15, 1997, 120 troops led by Capt Htun Mya found 42
women and 57 men hiding in the forest in Kunhing township. The troops
gang-raped all the women for two days and two nights. After that, all the
99 villagers were reportedly killed by the soldiers.(45)
In July 1998, a commission of the International Labour Organization
concluded after a year long study that Burma's regime -in particular its
military - engages in forced labour on a massive scale. This "gross denial
of human rights" involves pressing women and children to walk ahead through
suspected minefields, build roads and perform other dangerous and unpaid
tasks. Resistance is met with torture, rape, beatings and murder. (46)
The Burmese military has been trying to achieve its policies of
"Burmanization", coupled with "ethnic cleansing" and "forced assimilation"
by making life unbearable for the Shan people. This involves all kinds of
harassment: violation of all their rights (including livelihood and means
of sustenance), the systematic employment of terror, the encouragement of
lawless behaviour of the Burmese armed forces and the killing of
individuals and most commonly the mistreatment of women (rape) so as to
humiliate the men and psychologically scar the children.
If the human rights abuses and atrocities committed by the Burmese military
regime could be seen as injustice and thus should be given the right to
secede, according to almost all theorecticians of secession, including
Allen Buchanan's Remedial Rights Only Theories and J. M. Mukhi's god-given
right to secede, then the Shan has every right to opt for separation from
the now defunct Union of Burma.
3. 6. THE SHAN CASE AND THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION
Important facts related to the Shan case could be listed as follows:-
The Shan States has been the ancestral home of the Shan people from time
It is a separate and distinct political, national and cultural entity
throughout history; and into the present.
On the 11th February 1947, it was unanimously decided by all the Saophas
and representatives of the people of the Shan States held in Panglong that
the Shan National Day be celebrated on the 7th February every year (47)
The Shan States entered into political union with Burma on an equal
footing, under a Treaty in 1947. The fact that there was a treaty signed
between the Shan States and Burma underlines and emphazises the Sovereignty
of the Shan States and its people.(48)
The 1948 independence granted by the British was in effect a
joint-independence by Shans and the Burmese.
The 1952 martial law proclamation and the Burmese troops' invasion
ostensibily to fight the Kuomintang invaders but actually to subjugate the
Shan States, is naked aggression by one nation against another, which is
still in process.
The 1961 federal reform movement, spearheaded and proposed by the Shan
State Government and supported by all other nationalities, is in effect the
last legal effort to ward off the growing ethnic conflicts between the
Burmans and non-Burmans by introducing amendments to the Union
Constitution which was federal only in form but unitary in practice.
The unilateral action of the Burmese military regime in abolishing the
Constitution of the Union of Burma in 1962, automatically frees the Shan
States and the Shan people from all contractual obligations, both legal and
constitutional, to that union.
Since then, the nature of the conflict has changed from an internal to
The ongoing gross human rights violations, forced relocations, forced
assimilations and genocides perpetrated by the Burmese military regime are
crimes against humanity.
Given such circumstances, the Shan States has no other choice than to
strive for self-determination to preserve its national identity and to
realize the well-being of the Shan people.
Futhermore, judging the Shan's right of secession from theorectical point
of view, the following assessments could be made.
The Shan's secession case is identical with the Remedial Rights Only
Thories advocated by Simon Caney, for the Shan has suffered injustices at
the hands of its occupiers and thus, is entitled to secession which is the
appropriate remedy. The illuminating evidences of human rights abuses and
atrocities committed by the Burmese military regime inflicted upon the Shan
populace are there for all to see.
The Shan case is also in line with the special rights to secede, within the
context of Remedial Rights Only Theories. The Constitution of Union of
Burma includes the right of secession for the Shan, after a trial period of
ten years, which has been denied by successive Burmese governments. Thus,
to rectify the unjustified illegal annexation, the Shan States has the
right to opt for secession.
The consent of the governed and the value of one's cultural membership
advanced by Darrel Moellendorf, and the well-being argument of Simon Caney
centered around cultural identity and national self-determination.
Accordingly, the suppression of cultural identity of the Shan people
contradict directly with the consent of the governed and a set of one's
cultural values.It is clear that the present multinational state structure
of Burma, together with its ethnic suppression policy, is in no way
plausible for the Shan cultural identity to flourish. Thus seccession of
the Shan States could be justified on moral grounds to protect liberty, to
escape severe economic exploitation, to preserve its culture of being
eliminated and to serve as an instrument of self-defense against the
violence perpetrated by the Burmese occupying forces.
Judging from the armed and political resistances of the Shan people from
1957 to the present days and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy's
capturing of the majority vote within the Shan States in 1990, which was
the only election held after the 1962 military coup but still being refused
to exercise political power by the ruling Burmese military regime, one
could conclude that the Shan wants political divorce. Furthermore, the
decision on separation or unity could still be made democratically, as
advanced by Tullberg, under the auspices of United Nations or international
However, while most of the people would readily agree to the argument of
the Shan's secession issue morally and theorectically, substantial and
practical help has still been lacking, as is the case of each and every
non-state nation struggling to gain international recognition.
THE RECOGNITION OF NEW STATES
Most of the people would agree in justifying the right of
self-determination, theorectically and morally. The Vienna Declaration and
Programme of Actions, adopted on 25th June 1993 by the World Conference on
Human Rights states:-
All people have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right
they freely determine their political status, and freely pursue their
economic, social and cultural development.
Taking into account the particular situation of peoples under colonial or
other forms of alien domination or foreign occupation, the World Conference
on Human Rights recognizes the right of the peoples to take any legitimate
action, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, to realize
their inalienable right of self-determination. The World Conference on
Human Rights considers the denial of the right of self-determination as a
violation of human rights and underlines the importance of the effective
realization of this right.
In accordance with the Declaration on Principles of International Law
concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation Among States in accordance
with the Charter of the United Nations, this shall not be construed as
authorizing or encouraging any action which dismember or impair, totally or
in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and
independent States conducting themselves in compliance with the principle
of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and thus possessed of a
Government representing the whole people belonging to the territory without
distinction of anykind. (49)
According to this declaration, the notion of "territorial integrity" and
its entitlement would be only applicable for the governments adhering to
accepted international norms of human rights and representing peoples of
the whole territory without distinction of any kind. This would exclude
illegitimate governments, which are violators of human rights from
benefitting from this notion of "territorial integrity".In other words,
under such illegitimate rules, the ethnic groups or nationals' right of
exercising self-determination should be met with more flexibility and
acceptance, even if it means "secession".
But in practice this question repeatedly comes down to one of recognition
by existing states of new states. At the turn of the century, James
Crawford writes, "some fifty acknowledged states constituted the world
community". This number is now approaching two hundred, all of the new
states having been carved out of preceding entities. This suggests that a
fair amount would have been learned as to how the procedure works. But no,
Crawford continues: "There is no generally accepted and satisfactory modern
legal definition of statehood". (50)
The result of such deficiency can be detected in the implementation of the
right to self-determination, starting from the end of the Second World War.
Secession in itself is not considered illegal, as is shown by the admission
of Pakistan in 1947 as a member of the United Nations when it split from
British India, and then the admission of Bangladesh as a member when it
left Pakistan. And, of course, the new emerging states can also attest to
this. (51) There were only 165 states in the world before the breakup of
Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Along with the "velvet divorce" between
the Czech and Slovak parts of Czechoslovalia in 1992 and the emergence of
an independent Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1993, 19 other new states were
added to the membership of the United Nations between 1991 and 1993 because
of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. (52)
The unevenness of the application of national self-determination can be
observed in the cases of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia on the one
hand, and Biafra independence movement from Nigeria in the late 1960s , on
the other. While the Western powers applied the principle of national
self-determination to formerly communist countries of Europe, the notion of
territorial integrity was considered appropriate for the Biafra
independence movement. In the same vein, while Bangladesh, which broke free
from Pakistan with the help of massive Indian military invasion, has
attained statehood, the Turkish Cypriots, who broke free from the Greek
majority independent state in 1974 with the help of Turkish forces from
Turkey, were refused recognition.(53)
In large part this "postwar" legal muddle over claims to self-determination
arose because they were too often assessed in terms of cold-war advantage
or disadvantage. (54) The same is still true for all non-state nations
struggling for self-determination. Apart from having to fight an uphill
battle against the rule of the game established in favour of existing
states, secessionist movements are required first to establish their own
existence or ableness to exercise sovereignty in the face of powerful
opposition state or states within which they are still located; or at least
a recognized state of belligerency is needed, before application for
international legal rights could be applied. (55)
Thus, the legal response to ethnic demands for self-determination, in the
absence of clear legal rules, could be termed "muddled", although it is not
necessarily to be disparaged. (56)
5. THE ROLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
This bring the United Nations and the international community to the point
of consideration on how they should go about creating a more harmonious
world atmosphere, especially where resolving the problems of ethnic demands
are concerned. Again, it boils down to the question of "accommodation" with
regards to the right of self-determination.
The role of the United Nations in implementing the right to
self-determination within the mould of decolonization, is clearly one of
the greatest achievements of our time. .
In the 38 years since the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of
Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, some 60 former colonial
Territories inhabited by more than 60 million people have attained
independence and joined the United Nations as sovereign members.(57)
However, according to the UN's count, there are still 17 territories left
to be decolonized but the actual numbers, which fit into this category, are
far higher. To neglect this reality and stick to the UN accepted count
would be tantamount to denying that other ethnic conflicts around the
world, which are the major sources of crisis, tensions and conflicts do not
The argument here is that there is an urgent need for practical and
theoretical innovations, to be able to address the management of this type
of conflict as it exists today in many corners of the earth in the interest
of peace and harmony in the world. As decolonization, in all its different
aspects, is the key, the first place to start is to redefine what
colonialism is , to bettter fit the existing landscape of today's global
Points of discussion should include, among others, the following:-
The Alien Concept and alien-ness should not be limited to only Europeans
and Westerners but should also include African, Asian and Latin American,
irrespective of skin colours.
Maintenance of the former largely, European colonial boundries as
irreversible and sacrocant national state boundries should be reviewed on a
case to case basis. This is an unending source of ethnic conflicts
affecting international stability.
The question of geographical separateness or "The Salt Water Doctrine"
between colonizer and colonized should not be the sole factor, but
cultural, ethnic, linguistic and historical factors should be also taken
into account, in determining the "alien-ness" of the colonizer.
The cases of one colonial regime replacing another are also contributing
factors to many of the existing conflicts in the world today. A large
number of oppressed and non-state nations are experiencing this type of
colonialism, when one dominant ethnic group took over the mantle of the
former colonizer and monopolized the state power at the expense of the
other ethnic groups. (58)
Another approach is to advance the formation of international law, which
might be able to address the right of self-determination, including the
right of secession.
In order to be able to proceed forward, the international community could
start with the Remedial Right Only Theories, which as the name implies,
recognize a general right to secede only as a remedy for injustice. The
thrust of the theories has already been presented in the section on
"Theories of Secession". According to Allen Buchanan:
A proposal for an international legal right to secede ought to be morally
progressive, yet at the same time at least minimally realistic. A morally
progressive proposal is one which, if implemented with a reasonable degree
of success, would better serve basic values than the status quo. Preeminent
among these values is the protection of human rights.
A proposal should build upon, or at least not squarely contradict, the
more morally acceptable principles of existing international law, when
these principles are interpreted in a morally progressive way. If at all
possible, acceptance and implementation of a new principle should not come
at the price of calling into question the validity of a well-entrenched,
morally progressive principle.(59)
Thus, beginning with Remedial Right Only Theories would stand a better
chance of success, since the theories advance a much more restricted right
to secede and are less of a threat to the territorial integrity of existing
states. Hence, they are more likely to be incorporated into international
If the said arguments could be entertained and the international community
would be ready to discuss the possibilities of the Remedial Right Only
Theories being incorporated into existing international laws concerning the
right of secession, it would already be doing a great service and justice
to the major portion of the oppressed non-state nations and peoples.
Beyond decolonization, the Security Council had, in the name of
"international peace and security" found it appropriate in 1991 to act to
protect the Iraqi Kurds, creating a "safe haven" in the Kurdish area north
of 36th parallel .(61) Again, the United Nations found it possible to
intervene in ethnic conflicts citing, as in the case of a Balkan war crimes
panel resolution, "obligations and international humanitarian law".(62)
In June 1992, the United Nations Secretary-General submitted to the Member
States An Agenda for Peace, a report presenting an integrated programme of
proposals aimed at identifying potential conflicts, bringing about their
resolution, and building peace among former adversaries in the
post-conflict period. In the area of preventive diplomacy, it was
recommended to increase the use of confidence-building and fact-finding
activities, as well as the establishment of an early-warning aystem for
assessing possible threats to peace. (63)
Clearly, in spite of all this, the United Nations still has a tall order to
fulfill, if the ethnic conflicts raging around the world are to be stopped
or at least put under control. To do this, the right to self-determination,
which is part and parcel of Universal Human Rights, has to be addressed. In
turn, the United Nations and the international community should start to
ponder the formation of international laws, institution building and
implementation agencies in this direction, so that the aggrieved
unrepresented nations and peoples' quest for self-determination could be
According to Dan Smith, in his "The State of War and Peace Atlas", 43
ongoing armed and open conflicts could be counted, as of 31st December
1995.(64) From these conflicts the major portion fall into the category of
ethnic conflicts, while a lot of latent conflicts are brewing underneath
waiting for eruption. The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization
(UNPO), which started out with a handful of members now fields 50, as of
1997. In the Asia Pacific region alone, the organization claims 13 members.
They are Aboriginals of Australia, Acheh/Sumatra, Chittagong Hill Tracts,
Eastern Turkestan, Karenni State, Mon, Nagaland, South Moluccas, Taiwan,
Tibet, West Papua and the Shan States. There are still a lot more
unrepresented nations and peoples outside the UNPO, such as Irian Jaya,
Kashmir and Assam in the region, just to name a few. Looking at this
particular type of conflict spreading out all over the continents and the
dissatisfaction and unfulfilled yearnings of peoples left out of the
international decision-making process, one can only imagine the
difficulties of building a mechanism capable of tackling the problem at its
root. And especially, when demands of the right to self-determination clash
with the notion of territorial integrity.
But the reality is that the United Nations has been on this track for a few
decades, notably with the implementation of the decolonization process,
with tremendous success for all to see. Under this UN procedure, in the
duration of 38 years, some 60 former colonial territories inhabited by
more than 60 million people have attained independence, although this might
be limited to the "Salt Water Doctrine" type of colonies.
The point to be made here is that if the international community is ready
to deepen , reform and enlarge the existing institutions to initiate the
commitments of moral obligation, theoretical soundness and political will,
the world will be in a position to advance the notion of
"Self-Determination" which is an accepted and established part of Universal
To put it in more concrete terms, it will be helpful to restate the UNPO
recommendation made known on the occasion of the conference titled: The
Question of Self-Determination, in 1996.
The international community should assist in the promotion and organization
of referanda, under United Nations auspices, which specifically address
claims of self-determination. An additional idea is to work for the
establishment of a court of arbitration which is constituted to examine
claims of self-determination and to provide binding judgements when the
claims are found to be legitimate and viable. Other options, albeit
secondary in desirability and efficacy, could be Human Rights Council
reporting to the General Assembly of the United Nations and/or an
International Court of Human Rights, a High Commissioner for
Self-Determination, and reorganized Decolonization Committee. (65)
S. Caney, Self-Government and Secession : The Case of Nations, in The
Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 5, No. 4, 1997, pp. 352 - 353.
Ibid., p. 352.
UNPO Yearbook 1996, published by Kluwer Law International, The Hague, The
Netherlands, 1997, p.11.
W. Pfaff, The Wrath of Nations : Civilization and the Furies of
Nationalism, published by Simon and Schuster, Touchstone Edition, 1994,
USA, p. 58.
The Question of Self-Determination : The Cases of East Timor, Tibet and
Western Sahara, Conference Report (UN, Geneva, 25 - 26 March 1996), UNPO
Publication, p. vi.
Ibid., p. xv.
S. Caney, p. 353.
Raju G. C. Thomas, Nations, States, and Secession : Lessons from the Former
Yugoslavia, in Mediterranean Quarterly, Vol. 5. No. 4, Fall 1994, pp. 40 - 65.
A. Buchanan, Theories of Secession, in Philosophy and Public Affairs,
26(1), Winter 97, pp. 31 -61.
Ibid., p. 36.
Ibid., p. 49.
Ibid., p. 50
D. Moellendorf, Liberalism, Nationalism, and the Right to Secede, in
Philosophical Forum, 28 (1-2), Fall - Winter 96-97, pp. 87 - 99.
Ibid., p. 90.
See also W. Kymlicka, Multi-Cultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of
Minority Rights, Oxford University Press, 1995, Chapter 4, pp. 42 - 44.
D. Moellendorf, p. 91.
Ibid., pp. 92 - 93.
S. Caney, p. 352
Ibid., p. 361.
Ibid., p. 361.
Ibid., p. 361.
See also W. Kymlicka, pp. 82 - 89 and 105.
Ibid., pp. 361 - 362.
See also A. Margalit and J. Raz, National Self-Determination, in Journal of
Philosophy, 87 (1990), p. 449.
Ibid., p. 362.
Margalit and Raz, pp. 450 -451.
S. Caney, p. 362.
Margalit and Raz, pp. 451 - 453.
S. Caney, pp. 362 - 363.
Ibid., p. 363.
Ibid., pp. 370 - 371.
J. Tullberg & B. S. Tullberg, Separation or Unity? A Model of Solving
Ethnic Conflicts, in Politics and Life Sciences, September 1997, Beach Tree
Publishing, UK., p. 237.
Ibid., p. 237.
Ibid., p. 238.
Ibid., pp. 238 - 239.
Ibid., p. 239.
A. Buchanan, Secession: The Morality of Political Divorce from Fort Sumter
to Lithuania and Quebec, Boulder, Colo.:Westview, 1991, pp. 27 - 125.
Raju G. C. Thomas, pp. 40 - 65.
Historical Facts About The Shan States, Condensed and Revised Edition,
published by the Shan State National Congress, 1994.
Document containing proposal for the Revision of the Constitution of the
Union of Burma, submitted by The Shan State, 1961, translated by Sao
Singha, p. 2.
UNESCO, International Meeting of Experts on Further Study of the Concept of
the Rights of Peoples: Report and Recommendations,1990.
See also UNPO Covenant, Article 6(a) in UNPO Yearbook 1996, p. 11.
For more comprehensive reading, please see Historical Facts About The Shan
States, pp. 8 - 20.
UN Press Release, SG/SM/6571,OBV/47, 22 May 1998. Struggle for
Independence, for Self-rule is Struggle for Human Rights, Secretary-General
The Question of Self-Determination, p. 43.
Ibid., p. 6.
The Shan Human Rights Foundation, Dispossessed, April 1998.
Amnesty International, Myanmar: Atrocities in the Shan State, 15 April 1998.
The Nation, Ethnic Cleansing: Rape as Weapon of War in Burma, Editorial &
Opinion, 31 May 1998.
ILO, Forced Labour in Myanmar (Burma), Report of the Commission of Inquiry
appointed under article 26 of the Constitution of International Labour
Organization to examine the observence by Myanmar of the forced Labour
Convention, 1930 (No. 29), Geneva, 2 July 1998.
The Washington Post, Burma Crackdown, 14 September 1998.
Aung Than Kyaw, Shan National Day, Shan National Anthem and Shan National
Flag, in Golden Jubilee Shan State Magazine, published by U Khun Kyaw
(General Secretary), Taunggyi Association, Rangoon, 1997, pp. 33 - 34.
Shan National Flag and Anthem were also approved by the Council of Saophas
and Representatives of the People of Shan State at Panglong, on the 11th
February 1947, which was signed by Hkun Pan Sing, the President.
The Panglong Agreement signed on the 12th of February, 1947, paved the way
for the drawing of Union Constitution, which was instrumental in attaining
the joint-independence on the 4th of January, 1948 from the British. The
Panglong Agreement and the Union Constitution together emphasized the right
of the Shan and Karenni to secede from the Union, after a trial period of
World Conference on Human Rights: The Vienna Declaration and Programme of
Action June 1993, published by UN Department of Information, NY., p. 29.
D. P. Moynihan, Pandaemonium: Ethnicity in International Politics, Oxford
University Press, 1993, p. 147.
Ibid., p. 151.
Raju G. C. Thomas, Nations, States and Secession: Lessons from Former
Yogoslavia, pp. 40 - 65.
D. P. Moynihan, p. 153.
Ibid., pp. 151 - 152.
Raju G. C.
D. P. Moynihan, p. 152.
UN Press Release, UN General Secretary, Kofi Annan's Statement, 22 May
1998. (SG/SM/657 OBV/47)
For more comprehensive reading please see China's Tibet: The World Largest
Remaining Colony, UNPO Publication, 1997.
A. Buchanan, p. 42.
Ibid., p. 45.
D. P. Moynihan, p. 152.
UNPO Yearbook, p. 94.
D. P. Moynihan, p. 173.
Basic Facts About The United Nations, UN Publication, NY., 1995, p. 29.
Dan Smith, Kriege und Konflikte, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt
am Main, 1997, pp. 90 - 95.
The Question of Self-Determination: The Case of East Timor, Tibet and
Western Sahara, Conference Report, UNPO Publication, pp- xv - xvi.
Secession As An Ethnic Conflict Resolution: The Case Of The Shan States
By: Sai Myo Win
// END //.