Statement of ARNO on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s 21st Century Panglong Convention
1. The Panglong Agreement signed on February 12, 1947 between the independence hero late Gen. Aung San and leaders of the several ethnic groups in Panglong, Shan State, was an epoch-making event in the history of Burma to build the Union of Burma together. The history of Burma/Myanmar would have developed differently if there was no Panglong Treaty.
2. But the true spirit of the Panglong — ‘unity in diversity’– has never been realized since Burma’s independence on January 4, 1948. The agreed upon principles of federal democracy, equal rights, autonomy and self-determination of the ethnic nationalities have been largely ignored which developed resentment giving rise to long civil war continuing till today.
3. Gen. Ne Win seized the power in 1962 and ended the Union Treaty and destroyed all vestiges of democratic structures while perpetrating human rights violations in the whole country and exterminating the ethnic Rohingya under the state programme.
4. The long military dictatorship has promoted hate speech and Islamophobia, perpetrated discriminatory and repugnant policies of segregation, crimes against humanity and slow genocide against Rohingya, including the restriction on their basic freedoms and freedom of movement. Despite democratic transitions, there is no fundamental change of attitude towards Rohingya. Their untold sufferings are callous and are facing an existential threat in Myanmar.
5. It is of much interest that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is holding an all- inclusive Second Panglong Conference or 21st Century Panglong Convention on 31st August 2016 to revitalize and translate the true spirit of Panglong with a view to establishing a blissful and well-built Union of Myanmar.
6. However, the ethnic Rohingya, who rank among the world’s most persecuted and forgotten peoples, and Myanmar’s Muslim communities are prevented from being included, considered or accepted. Thus their voices continue to be unheard.
7. We, therefore, express our serious concern that this is not a holistic approach to resolving the long plagued ethnic problems to bring about peace in Myanmar; and without Rohingya representation, the convention will not be all inclusive on democratic principle.