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Civil society must be part of peace process, says 88 generation leader


Ko Ko Gyi. Photo: Bo Bo/Mizzima

Ko Ko Gyi, one of the leaders of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society has said that the public and youths can play an important role in solving political issues.

Speaking at the Myanmar Youth Forum held in Monywa on 11 June the veteran student activist said that it was important for youths and civil society to be involved in the ongoing national peace process. However, that will not be possible at the upcoming 21st Century Panglong Conference because of a new policy implemented by Aung San Suu Kyi, which says civil society groups cannot attend the conference.

During his speech Ko Ko Gyi urged youths to think beyond normal problem-solving methods when thinking about the solving the civil war and ethnic issues.

He said: “The problem is not a new one. It’s an old one. It’s older than us. Attempting to find solutions for an old problem with old ways of thinking has still not been successful up until now. So, youth need to find new ways of thinking and new solutions. It’s not enough to solve this between the armed groups. The role of the public is important. The voices of youth and civil society organisations need to be included.”

State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, announced recently that political parties that have failed to win at least one seat in parliament will not be allowed to directly participate in the 21st Century Panglong Conference. Those parties not represented in parliament and civil society groups can instead submit their suggestions and comments to the conference through the Civil Society Organisation Forum.

Civil society organisations were previously allowed to take part in the peace conferences, of which the 21st Century Panglong Conference is a continuation, when they were organised by former President U Thein Sein’s administration. But, civil society organizations like the 88 Generation Peace and Society will not be allowed to attend the 21st Century Panglong Conference due to Aung San Suu Kyi’s new policy change.

Human rights activists and civil society organisations from ethnic areas will only be allowed to attend the Civil Society Organisation Forum.

Min Min Nwe, an official from a Mon State-based civil society organisation said: “Civil society needs to be allowed to participate directly. Civil society organisations held a peace forum in Mon State recently. Civil society groups have called for the right to participate in peace conferences."

Observers say that civil society organisations have played a major role in the peace process in successful transitions in foreign countries.

Ko Ko Gyi said: “Not asking youths [to do something] or giving them tasks in fear of them making mistakes is a hindrance on the qualifications of youths. They will learn as they work. When they make mistakes, they will fix them. There isn’t much time left to fix the mistakes made by adults. Youths still have much time left to fix their mistakes. The development of the history of mankind is a process of fixing the mistakes."

Courtesy BNI

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