Junta’s Chief Than Shwe turns down Suu Kyi’s Second Panglong Approach by Zin Linn

Burma’s Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Senior General Than Shwe made an address at the Passing out of Parade of No. 12 Intake of the Defence Services Medical Academy on 24 December.

According to his speech, in Burma, there are over 100 ethnic groups who have lived in friendship and harmony since prehistoric time. He said that all the nationalities in the country have established unity in diversity, having been born and living on the same land. Than Shwe also spotlighted the geographical features of Burma, which include high mountain ranges and main rivers that flow from the north to the south, make transportation difficult and delayed communications among the ethnic nationalities.

At one point, Than Shew said, “Moreover, under colonialism, they were subject to many years of systematic divide-and-rule practices. The national peoples become suspicious of one another, prompting our leaders to make strenuous efforts during the struggle for independence so that the central Myanmar (Burma) and the mountainous regions could gain independence together.”

He explained further more that doubts toward one another deepened in the post-independence era, giving swell up to multi-coloured insurgencies across the country.

So, during the period when the Tatmadaw or Burma Army has taken the responsibilities of the State, east-west and north-south networks of motor roads, railroads and airports have been built. According to his speech, the junta has made improvement of transportation and communication, friendship and harmony among the nationalities. By doing such advancement, the nation has been achieved in the economic, health and education sectors of the States, he said.

But, Than Shwe conceals the obvious realities of the war-torn condition on the ground. Sadism, coercion and social turmoil have blown up in Burma after the country’s recent polls, which are believed to be neither free nor fair in lieu of the will of the people in Burma. The political repression and human rights abuses that lasted for half a century spoiled the foundation of the country’s social order.

Armed conflict has broken out in a number of areas along the Thailand-Burma border in consequence of growing tensions between Burma’s military junta and armed ethnic groups that are declining to follow the junta’s Border Guard Force or a scheme to surrender their arms.

Moreover, Senior General Than Shwe fails to mention the Tatmadaw’s act of violence. Since 1962, the military has violently seized power and has committed countless crimes: looting country’s natural resources by using brutal dictatorship, launching warfare against dissenting ethnic nationalities, keeping down civil and political liberties, downgrading the nation’s educational facilities, neglecting public healthcare and causing widespread hunger.

In his speech, he underscores as usual to safeguard “The Three Main National Causes” – Non- Disintegration of the Union, Non-Disintegration of National Unity and Perpetuation of Sovereignty. He said all nationalities have the right to settle anywhere in the country, with the result that they live harmoniously together. He also said that it is impossible to separate each national group and the very thoughts and notions that give rise to such regional bias have become outdated.

Actually, by saying so, Than Shwe shows his attitude against the idea of second Panglong Conference for national reconciliation supported by Democracy Icon Aung San Suu Kyi and the prominent ethnic leaders.

The Zomi National Congress (ZNC) held its 22nd founding day ceremony on October 24 in Kalaymyo, Sagaing Division and issued ‘Kalay Declaration’ pronouncing publicly the gathering of a second Panglong Conference for reinstatement of national reconciliation and creating an all-embracing federal union.

More than 50 politicians including NLD vice chairman Tin Oo and Central Executive Committee member Win Tin, Committee Representing the People’s Parliament (CRPP) secretary Aye Tha Aung, Mon leaders Naing Ngwe Thein and Naing Tun Thein, prominent politician Thakhin Thein Maung and student leaders signed the declaration. And some political parties, which contested in the recent election, supported the Kalay Declaration.

Aung San Suu Kyi was in custody under house arrest while the Kalay Declaration was issued, that’s why the ethnic leaders met with her to discuss about the Kalay Declaration which main aim is to restore national reconciliation.

On the contrary, Senior General Than Shwe’s speech, which appeared at the Passing out of Parade of No. 12 Intake of the Defence Services Medical Academy on 24 December, plainly turns down the idea of second Panglong Conference in favor of national reconciliation and an inclusive federal union.

In addition, on 25 December, junta’s newspaper warned in its commentary toward the political opposition to work together with the newly elected parliamentary government. People on the side of true democracy have to support and make submissions with an optimistic attitude as well as consider the government elected in 2010 elections as a democracy co-worker, the junta’s mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar said.


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