Burma’s peace negotiator told 14 ethnic group leaders in Rangoon on Sunday that the government’s controversial eight point guideline for Union-level negotiations could be amended.
Speaking to 14 political party leaders at the Rangoon-based Myanmar Egress training school, Minister Aung Min, who has referred to himself as a “Minister Without Borders,” told Shan leader Hkun Htoon Oo that the points could be amended jointly, according to a Shan Herald news agency Article on Tuesday.
The eight points are:
- To remain forever in the Union
- To accept the Three National Causes: non-disintegration of the Union, non-disintegration of national sovereignty and perpetuation of national sovereignty
- To cooperate in economic and development tasks
- To cooperate in the elimination of narcotic drugs
- To set up political parties and enter elections
- To accept the 2008 Constitution and to make necessary amendments via Parliament by majority consent
- To fully enter the legal fold for permanent peace and live, move, work in accord with the Constitution
- To coordinate existence of only a single armed forces in accord with the Constitution
Aung Min, who is vice chairman of the Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC), urged further cooperation from ethnic political parties and civil societies in the peace-building process and democratic reforms.
Hkun Htoon Oo, the leader of the newly registered Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), told the Shan Herald there were at least other issues that needed to be work on before peace can be achieved.
First, he said the Burmese military is still launching attacks against ethnic groups despite the fact that cease-fire agreements have been signed.
Points number 1-4 are generally acceptable, he said. However, on points 5-8, he said most of the ethnic groups believe they should be resolved outside the Parliament in an all-inclusive ethnic conference that looks at underlying causes to the decades-old hostilities between the central government and ethnic groups.
He said non-partisan peace monitors also need full assurance that they would not face legal prosecution in the event that peace talks fail and war resumes.
SNLD deputy leader Sai Nyunt Lwin said Aung Min replied: “The guidelines are not carved in stone. We can discuss and amend them as necessary. Right now, we are working hard to hold a Panglong-like political dialogue before the end of 2014.”
The 1947 Panglong Conference brought Burma, Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders together to discuss a union based on “full autonomy in internal administration,” “financial autonomy” and “rights and privileges fundamental in democratic countries.”
With regards to peace monitors, Aung Min said the law by which a person could be prosecuted for unlawful association with a banned group would not be applicable.
“And suppose you were taken into custody, I promise to be there to get you out,” he said, according to the Shan Herald article. “And if you were not released even then, I promise I would remain with you in jail.”
Aung Min said earlier that rules and regulations for peace monitors were being drafted.
He had little to say about current military operations launched by the Burma Army against cease-fire groups.
The latest clashes took place in Hsipaw on July 18 and in Mongpiang on July 22.
The meeting, organized by Myanmar Egress, which is seen by some as a government-backed NGO, included members of the Arakan league for Democracy, Mon Democracy party, National Unity Party, Chin Progressive Party, PaO National Organization and Karen People’s Party.