Progressive Voice releases a new briefing paper on recent developments and their impact on the return discourse for refugees along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Increasing armed conflict and militarization throughout ethnic areas, including in southeastern Myanmar where the Myanmar Army seeks control over revenue-generating projects, cross-border trade, natural resource extraction and mega projects, suggest that the risk of further displacement upon return is high. This is particularly relevant as many refugees fled from southeast Myanmar. In addition, land disputes over housing, land and property rights continue to pose threats to refugees and internally displaced persons upon returning home.
A recent organized return of 71 refugees and subsequent problems indicate the many challenges to any imminent large scale return. A successful return must ensure that refugees themselves and civil society organizations that work with the refugee community are adequately consulted and are able to participate in all levels of the repatriation process, including in the preparation and implementation.
For more information, please contact:
Aung Khaing Min, Interim Coordinator, Progressive Voice
+66 097 995 5305; +95 092 610 09995
Download the briefing paper in English here
Where do we go from here?
I wish everybody, “A Very Happy and Peaceful 2017”
But please also spare a thought for Tai/Shan villagers who are living in fear and terror; please pray for them, that they may soon be able to live a normal, free and peaceful life.
Peace or War Lies totally in the Minds and Hearts of the Bamar Tatmadaw.
Peace or War lies entirely in the minds and hearts of the Tatmadaw Generals. Peace must come from within themselves because unless they are at peace with themselves they cannot make peace with others. Individually, no doubt they are good Buddhists, but as members of the Institution they follow a different doctrine that allow anger, suspicion, resentment and violence to implement their actions.
The Bamar Military Instititue was founded by a group of Bamar Politicians (Doe Bamar) with very strong feelings against the colonisation of the Bamar Heartland by Britain, as seen by their frequent remarks, “colonization is evil, and that the British colonization of Burma was a shock to their system, damaged their psyche and shattered their pride.” They are unable to forget and move forward. The fear of being colonised by Foreign Power has left a scar in the hearts and minds of Bamar Nationalists: phobia, suspicion, anger, hate and resentment. These negative feelings have also been directed against other ethnic nationalities of Burma because they felt and still feel being let down by the latter, due to being manipulated by the British to resist, and to conform to the Bamar political Institution’s Ideology.
Although Bogyoke Aungsan was one of the members of the Institution, by the time he came to Panglong in 1947, he had altered his view and attitude towards other ethnic nationalities. He came with a purpose, to win and influence the Shan, Kachin and Chin to join the Bamar people as equal partners in the formation of the Federal Union of Burma before becoming independent from Britain in 1948. But other Bamar Politicians, were suspicious and regarded the signatories of the Panglong Agreement as their enemies. Bogyoke Aung San was assassinated by one of his own colleagues, and U Nu and his supporters altered the real Panglong Agreement. Ten years later, in the form of the Tatmadaw, the Bamar Military declared war on the Shan and other ethnic nationalities because they were phobic that the Shan and Karenni would secede and break up the union according to the secession clause that gives them the right to secede after ten years. The Shan and other Ethnic Leaders did not at any time, not then and not now attempt to secede other than try to make the Union more democratic, equal, just and fair. Bogyoke Aung San and the Shan Leaders brought all the ethnic States including the Bamar Heartland together, why should they want to break it up again? It does not make sense. The Bamar Military Dictators used violence, terror and human rights violations against other ethnic nationalities to prevent something that is non- existent, for the last 5 or six decades, and is still continuing until today. Is it surprising that there are so many resistant armed forces in Burma? The greater force used, the greater the resistance. It is also ironic that the same negative behaviour of the Tatmadaw members is now imitated by some of the ethnic armed groups. It is the duty of the Tatmadaw to show good examples to all atrmed groups.
With regard to the right of secession by the Shan and Karenni States, a Bamar politician asked Bogyoke Aung San in 1947, “ What if they( other Ethnic nationalities) should use their rights to secede?” To this Bogyoke Aungsan replied, “the Bamar people will have to try very hard, so that they will not want to secede and will want to stay in the Union”. The Tatmadw did try hard, but by using a wrong method.
By using force and threats and holding other ethnic nationalities to ransom with the following:
1. Not to secede
2. Not to disintegrate
3. Agree to co-operate in a joint economic and narcotic programs
4.Formation of political parties and to contest election
5. Accept 2008 Constitution and legally amend it as necessary
6. One National Armed Forces
the Bamar Military/ Politicians- will also drive other ethnic nationalities further away.
Instead, of threats and violence why not work for Peace with loving kindness, friendship and compassion like true Buddhists. This way the Tatmadaw and the other ethnic nationalities can begin to build better relationship, followed by mutual understanding, trust and respect. The Tatmadaw must stop being xenophobic and Panglong phobic, and have more confidence in themselves that they can achieve Peace without violence.
It is up to the Generals of the Tatmadaw whether it is to be Peace or everlasting War. For the sake of the whole country they should end the ongoing rights abuses, and change the way they interact with civilians particularly in the ethnic borderlands which belongs to the original indigenous people. The Tatmadaw Institution should reform and transform into a professional army, accountable to the elected Government. This way it can prove to itself and the world that it is a genuine protector and defender of the country and its peoples and thus restore its damaged reputation.
A Country is stable, secure and great only when all sections of society, Government, Army and civilians work harmoniously together, and without mis- using power. Nobody should be above the law of the land. In a modern, civilized world using absolute power like the ancient kings, killing all their opposition will only create disharmony, instability and insecurity which makes a country weak, and what the Tatmadaw is most afraid of. The Bamar needs other ethnic nationalities desperately to be strong to be able to challenge the changing world, but they cannot win them over by the using the same method the Tatmadaw Institution has used in the past decades.
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