By Zin Linn>>
In response to charges by Naypyitaw’s information minister Kyaw Hsan on 12 August, the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) issued a statement yesterday urging all parties concerned to revive the 1947 Panglong Agreement between the Burmese leader Aung San and leaders of the (then known as) Frontier Areas, Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.) said.
“Armed conflicts emerged due to successive Burmese governments’ Greater Nation Chauvinism, injustices and violations of the terms of the Panglong Agreement,” it reads.
“Instead of regarding ethnic peoples as enemies and accusing them as subversive elements, it’s high time national reconciliation was being forget by the present authorities on the basis of equality, justice and the Panglong Agreement.”
The Panglong Agreement highlighted total autonomy in internal affairs, democracy and human rights for the peoples of the Frontier Areas.
Currently, the Panglong Agreement has been ignored by the Burmese military regime. The said agreement has been disregarded by the generals as they rule the country highhandedly. The Panglong Agreement was signed on Feb. 12, 1947, between General Aung San and leaders of the Chin, Kachin and Shan ethnic groups.
The agreement basically guaranteed self-determination of the ethnic minorities and offered a large measure of autonomy, including independent legislature, judiciary and administrative powers. However, the dream of equality and a federal union is far from being realized some six decades after signing the Panglong Agreement.
Information Minister Kyaw Hsan, during the 12 August press conference, had charged the SSA (Yawdserk), as the RCSS/SSA is known by Naypyitaw, to differentiate it from the other SSA led by Maj Gen Pang Fa, designated by Naypyitaw as SSA (Wanhai), as “committing destructive acts” especially the bombings in Naypyitaw, Mandalay and Pyin Oo Lwin on 24 June.
“This is sheer fabrication to defame the RCSS/SSA. If the RCSS/SSA really wanted destruction, it could have done more widely and on a larger scale.” counters the statement, according to SHAN report.
Kyaw Hsan, in his first press conference as leader of the newly formed Spokespersons and Information Team, also attacked the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA)’s Saw Labwe breakaway group and the Shan Stae Progress Party / Shan Sate Army (SSPP/SSA).
Most ethnic groups scoffed Kyaw Hsan’s accusations as groundless and nonsense. Kyaw San looks as if he has no knowledge about past history of his own country.
According to several ethnic groups in exile, and if not for the historic Panglong Agreement, there would not have been the Union of Burma. The said Panglong Agreement between the non-Burman leaders and General Aung San was the foundation of Union of Burma or Myanmar.
If the Panglong Agreement was not signed, the country would have been divided into two parts: Burma and the Frontier Areas, the late Shan leader U Shwe Ohn, a participant at the Panglong Conference, wrote in his “Toward the Third Union of Burma” (1993). He also believed that Burma would become independent in 1948, while the Frontier Areas would continue to remain under British rule. Federated Shan States was a part, and that would also have been an independent country by now, Shwe Ohn wrote.
If General Aung San did not promise equal opportunity and self-determination, the country might never have been founded under the title of the Union of Burma. The Panglong agreement was aimed at setting up a federal union on the foundation of equality and autonomy for every ethnic nationality.
According to some critics, the NLD headed by Aung San Suu Kyi supports the Panglong Agreement and self-determination for every ethnic nationality while the military-based President Thein Sein government strongly opposed it.
Thus, various ethnic leaders emphasized that they don’t have confidence in the new 2008 constitution which abandoned the Paglong principles.
Under the military-centered constitution, most ethnic leaders believe, the nation will not have a chance to create a genuine democratic federal union by any means.