Realising Peace in Myanmar

NCA_2There had been much hope regarding an end to ethnic conflict in Myanmar with the then Thein Sein’s government’s attempts to bring long-term armed ethnic organisations around the table. The international community including the United States and Europe were quick to remove sanctions and offer support to the government, even more so when the National League for Democracy was elected. However, with the length of time so far taken and differences over what individual actors want, the possibility of an actual ceasefire in conflict affected areas and an eventual political solution seem far away.

Before 2010, armed ethnic resistance was seen as a unitary issue. Armed ethnic groups were united in the common aim of overthrowing a military regime that was seen to have invaded ethnic states and trampled on the rights of ethnic peoples in favour of the predominant Burman, or Bamar, majority.

While eight armed ethnic organisations signed a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement on 15 October 2015, many others remain reluctant to do so as competing interests and objectives vie with the overall demand for equality in a federal union. Many observers see the conflict, and the peace process, through a singular black and white prism. This view sees the Military/Government pitted against armed ethnic organisations the latter all wanting the same outcome. However, this is not the case, the number of actors involved and their motivations is what currently drives the conflict, and the solution to it, in the country.

Before 2010, armed ethnic resistance was seen as a unitary issue. Armed ethnic groups were united in the common aim of overthrowing a military regime that was seen to have invaded ethnic states and trampled on the rights of ethnic peoples in favour of the predominant Burman, or Bamar, majority. While some groups had come to an accommodation with the military government, it was primarily the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) that had decided to break with perceived ethnic unity and try and find an alternative to conflict.

Download EBO BP-4_17

Image: Senior General Min Aung Hlaing’s Facebook page

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