Letter to Senator Webb from Ethnic Nationalities CouncilShare
Today at 16:38
Oct 1st, 2009
P. O. Box – 49, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, 50202, THAILAND
Email: , Website: http://www.encburma.org
Date: 28th September, 2009
Dear Senator Webb,
Thank you for initiating a hearing on the impact and effectiveness of U.S. policy toward Burma. We are especially encouraged by your intention to examine how Burma’s long history of internal turmoil and ethnic conflicts has affected the development of democracy. This issue is, we believe, the key to building a sustainable democracy in Burma.
The Burmese military first seized power in 1962 precisely because it did not agree with the manner in which it was proposed that the ethnic conflicts be ended. At that time, the democratically-elected government of U Nu had agreed to the demand of the ethnic states to amend the constitution. They wanted a federal system of government instead of a centralized one.
It is the view of the Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) that democracy cannot flourish in Burma without resolving the question of how its constituent states relate to each other and to the national government. The military, democracy advocates and the ethnic nationalities need to agree on their vision for a future Burma. If this question is not resolved, the conflicts will continue and the development of democracy in Burma will be seriously hindered.
For the past twenty years, the conversation on US policy has been dominated by the issue of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the 1990 elections. While these are crucial matters, the equally important issue that lies at the heart of Burma’s problem, has been largely ignored. The complex problem of governing one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world needs to be addressed.
The ethnic nationalities together make up 30-40% of the total population of Burma. The seven ethnic states bordering Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand make up 60% of the national territory. Many of the ethnic nationalities can also be found in large numbers in at least five of the seven administrative divisions of Burma. Furthermore, their close cousins can also be found numbering tens of millions across the borders in all the neighbouring countries. Continue reading “Letter to Senator Webb from Ethnic Nationalities CouncilShare”