Friday, February 12, 2010

Burma: Panglong Agreement

Today (February 12) is the 63rd anniversary of Burma's "Union Day". It was this day in 1947 when 23 representatives from the Shan states, the Kachin hills and the Chin hills, and Aung San, head of the interim Burmese government, signed an agreement in Panglong (in Shan state) to form the Union of Burma.

The Panglong Agreement was reached between the Burmese government under Aung San and the Shan, Kachin, and Chin peoples on 12 February 1947. The agreement accepted "Full autonomy in internal administration for the Frontier Areas" in principle and envisioned the creation of a Kachin State by the Constituent Assembly. It continued the financial relations established between the Shan states and the Burmese federal government, and envisioned similar arrangements for the Kachin Hills and the Chin Hills.

The day is celebrated in Myanmar as Union Day each February 12.

But 63 years after Panglong Agreement for Union of Burma, the non- Burman ethnic nationals were betrayed and The Panglong Agreement” ruined by the Burmese Military Regimes when they took power by coup and the Constitution was destroyed and the Union of Burma was later become Union of Myanmar. The State Law and Order Restoration Council(SLORC), former name of the military junta, changed the country's name from Union of Burma to Union of Myanmar in 1989. Burmese opposition and the Western nations still continue to use "Burma" while the Eastern nations and the UN use "Myanmar".

Prior to the Panglong Agreement on 12-2-1947, there was First Panglong Conference in March 1946. The Panglong Agreement was also called 2nd Panglong Conference, which resulted in the independence of Burma, known as Union of Burma.

Panglong Conference 3-12 February 1947
• Kachin-Shan Agreement 6 February 1947
• Chin-Kachin-Shan Agreement 7 February 1947
• National Day of Shan State 7 February 1947
• Panglong Agreement 12 February 1947

Path to Independence

When Aung San and his delegation went to London to negotiate Burma's independence, no delegates from the Frontier Areas were present. During the meeting, Clement Attlee, then British prime minister, insisted that Burma proper should not coerce leaders of the Frontier Areas to join the Union of Burma against their will.

Aung San, however, argued that it was the British who kept the peoples of Burma apart. Aung San was quoted in The Times (London) on January 14, 1947 as saying: "We can confidently assert here that so far as our knowledge of our country goes, there should be no insuperable difficulties in the way of a unified Burma provided all races are given full freedom and the opportunity to meet together and to work without the interference of outside interests."

In an attempt to allay the doubts and lingering fears of the British government regarding unequal treatments to the Frontier Areas in the future Union of Burma, Aung San assured the Frontier peoples in his unforgettable remark: "If Burma receives one kyat (a Burmese currency), you will also get one kyat.

In January 1947 Aung San, now Burma's acknowledged political leader, led the Burmese delegation to London for independence talks with British premier Clement Attlee. On his return in February 1947 Aung San successfully negotiated the Panglong Agreement, which provided for the participation of various frontier-area peoples in the new Union of Burma, as the emergent Burmese federal state was to be called.

On July 19, 1947 - six months before the coming of independence - Aung San, only 32, and most of the other top nationalist leaders of the country were shot to death by henchmen of an insanely jealous political rival, prewar premier U Saw. The anniversary of the assassinations, known as "Martyrs Day", is Myanmar's most solemn national holiday.

Because of Panglong Agreement, the Union of Burma was formed after granted independence by British on January 4, 1948, and February 12, the date of Panglong Agreement has been celebrated since as 'Union Day'.

Text of Panglong Agreement

Text of the Agreement signed at Panglong on the 12th February, 1947 by Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders, and by representatives of the Executive Council of the Governor of Burma

A conference having been held at Panglong, attended by certain Members of the Executive Council of the Governor of Burma, all Saohpas and representatives of the Shan States, the Kachin Hills and the Chin Hills, the members of the conference, believing that freedom will be more speedily achieved by the Shans, the Kachins and the Chins by their immediate co-operation with the Interim Burmese Government, have accordingly, and without dissentients, agreed as follows:

(I) A representative of the Hill peoples, selected by the Governor on the recommendation of representatives of the Supreme Council of the United Hill Peoples, shall be appointed a Counsellor to the Governor to deal with the Frontier Areas.

(II) The said Counsellor shall also be appointed a member of the Governor's Executive Council without portfolio, and the subject of Frontier Areas brought within the purview of the Executive Council by constitutional convention as in the case of Defence and External Affairs. The Counsellor for Frontier Areas shall be given executive authority by similar means.

(III) The said Counsellor shall be assisted by two Deputy Counsellors representing races of which he is not a member. While the two Deputy Counsellors should deal in the first instance with the affairs of the respective areas and the Counsellor with all the remaining parts of the Frontier Areas, they should by Constitutional Convention act on the principle of joint responsibility.

(IV) While the Counsellor in his capacity of Member of the Executive Council will be the only representative of the Frontier Areas on the Council, the Deputy Counsellor(s) shall be entitled to attend meetings of the Council when subjects pertaining to the Frontier Areas are discussed.

(V) Though the Governor's Executive Council will be augmented as agreed above, it will not operate in respect of the Frontier Areas in any manner which would deprive any portion of these Areas of the autonomy which it now enjoys in internal administration. Full autonomy in internal administration for the Frontier Areas is accepted in principle.

(VI) Though the question of demarcating and establishing a separate Kachin State within a Unified Burma is one which must be relegated for decision by the Constituent Assembly, it is agreed that such a State is desirable. As first step towards this end, the Counsellor for Frontier Areas and the Deputy Counsellors shall be consulted in the administration of such areas in the Myitkyina and the Bhamo District as are Part 2 Scheduled Areas under the Government of Burma Act of 1935.

(VII) Citizens of the Frontier Areas shall enjoy rights and privileges which are regarded as fundamental in democratic countries.

(VIII) The arrangements accepted in this Agreement are without prejudice to the financial autonomy now vested in the Federated Shan States.

(IX) The arrangements accepted in this Agreement are without prejudice to the financial assistance which the Kachin Hills and the Chin Hills are entitled to receive from the revenues of Burma and the Executive Council will examine with the Frontier Areas Counsellor and Deputy Counsellor(s) the feasibility of adopting for the Kachin Hills and the Chin Hills financial arrangements similar to those between Burma and the Federated Shan States.

SIGNATORIES

Burmese Government:
Aung San

Kachin Committee:
Sinwa Naw, Myitkyina
Zaurip, Myitkyina
Dinra Tang, Myitkyina
Zau La, Bhamo
Zau Lawn, Bhamo
Labang Grong, Bhamo

Chin Committee:
Pu Hlur Hmung, Falam
Pu Thawng Za Khup, Tiddim
Pu Kio Mang, Haka

Shan Committee:
Saohpalong of Tawngpeng State.
Saohpalong of Yawnghwe State.
Saohpalong of North Hsenwi State.
Saohpalong of Laihka State.
Saohpalong of Mong Pawn State.
Saohpalong of Hsamonghkam State
Representative of Hsahtung Saohpalong. Hkun Pung
U Tin E
U Htun Myint
U Kya Bu
Hkun Saw
Sao Yape Hpa
Hkun Htee

[This text is taken from pp404–405 of Hugh Tinker's Burma: The Struggle for Independence 1944-1948 (Vol. II) London, HMSO 1984]

The Panglong agreement was a turning point in the modern history of Burma. General Aung San, father of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, played a pivotal role in bringing together leaders of the Frontier Areas (ethnic nationalities) to the negotiating table.

Burma (or Myanmar) is an ethnically diverse nation with 135 distinct ethnic groups officially recognized by the Burmese government. These are grouped into eight "major national ethnic races":

1. Kachin
2. Kayah(Karenni,Red Karen)
3. Kayin(Karen)
4. Chin
5. Mon
6. Bamar(Burma)
7. Rakhine(Arakanese)
8. Shan

Out of 8 ethnic race group, only 3 ethic groups involved and signed the Panglong Agreement, they are Kachin, Shan and Chin. The other ethic group, Mon, Rakhine, Kayah, Kayin, were not in the conference, or signatory to Panglong Agreement. For the ethnic race group that signed the agreement, their right was not uphold but was betray by the military Junta.

The Aung San-Atlee meeting

The Aung San-Atlee meeting not only recognized the pre-colonial freedom and sovereignty of Chin, Kachin and Shan nations but also acknowledged their rights: to get separate independence, to establish separate national states and national self- determination.

The representatives of Chin, Kachin and Shan met at Panglong in Shan State from 6th-7th of February, 1947 and agreed to form a Union with the Burmans provided there would be equality and democratic rights and the right to secession at will. The Burman representatives led by General Aung San accepted these points and the historic Panglong Agreement was signed on February 12, 1947. So there emerged the Union of Burma into the world.

The Panglong agreement was a turning point in the modern history of Burma. General Aung San, father of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, played a pivotal role in bringing together leaders of the Frontier Areas (ethnic nationalities) to the negotiating table. But Aung San was assassinated on July 19, 1947 at the age of 32.

Panglong agreement was the hallmark of ethno-political conflicts in Burma. The significance of forming the Union was that Burma became a home to multi-ethnic nationalities.

After receiving assurance from Aung San, leaders of the Chin hills, Kachin hills and the Shan states agreed to co-operate with the interim Burmese government. The attending Frontier leaders believed that freedom would be more speedily achieved by immediate co-operation with the interim government. The Shans, the Kachins and the Chins agreed to the formation of the Union of Burma in return for promises of full autonomy in internal administration and an equal share in the country's wealth. The Karens still believed that the British would grant them an independent state.

After the Panglong Agreement was signed, the Anti Fascist Peoples Freedom League (AFPFL) initiated to draft the Constitution of Burma Union and Its Territories. The AFPFL elected General Aung San as a leader of Drafting Committee along with 110 Committee Members. The Draft Constitution of Burma Union and Its Territories was brought to the AFPFL National Convention and subsequently approved enormously in May 27, 1947.

The substances of the Draft Constitution of Burma Union and Its Territories was purely based not only federal principles but also the Draft Constitution of Burma Union and Its Territories guaranteed each unit (State) to have their own unit (State) Government to perform, safeguard, promote, and protect the interests and benefits of their own states.

However, 57 days after the draft Constitution of Burma Union and Its Territories was approved, General Aung San and his interim leaders were assassinated by their political rivals, who refused to grant equal rights and privileges to non-Burman ethnic nationals. The Governor of Burma immediately authorized U Nu to takeover the position of General Aung San and ordered him to lead the national movement into independence.

U Nu, the new leader of transitory period was not participated in Panglong Agreement so that did not understand the essence of Panglong Agreement as well as who was a person critical to grant non-Burman ethnic nationals to have equal rights with Burman ethnic nationals during negotiation of General Aung San and Attlee on Burmese independence. U Nu authorized U Chan Htun, legal consultant of Constitution Drafting Committee of AFPFL to revise the “Approved Constitution of Burma Union and Its Territories” to approval of the interim legislature that was due in September. U Chan Htun and few Burman nationalists as well as Cambridge Legal scholars revised substantively the “Approved Constitution of Burma Union and Its Territories” from federal type of constitution to unitary type of constitution. The revised “Constitution of Burma Union and Its Territories” was brought to the interim legislature by U Nu and asked the speaker of the interim legislature for approval from the interim legislators without debate and subsequently approved on September 24, 1947. The revised Constitution of the Union of Burma came into force on January 4, 1948 when Burma was officially granted independence by Great Britain.

Constitution of the Union of Burma (1948)

Gradually, the non-Burman ethnic national leaders, politicians, and scholars realized that the Constitution of the Union of Burma (1948) not only disregard the essence of Panglong Agreement but also was substantively different from the “Draft Constitution Approved by the AFPFL National Convention”. They also realized that the Constitution of Union of Burma (1948) allowed majority Burman nationals to manipulate all legislative, executive, and judiciary powers over non-Burman ethnic nationals.

Taunggyi Conference (8th to 16th, 1961)

Therefore, the non-Burman ethnic national leaders gathered in Taunggyi, the capital city of Shan State in 1961 to discuss the defects of the Constitution of Union of Burma (1948). Representatives from all states, Kachin, Kaya, Karen, Chin, Rakhine, Mon and Shan states attended. Over 200 non-Burman politicians, leaders, and scholars agreed to amend the defects of the Constitution of Union of Burma (1948) within democratic principals and approved the drafted “Federal Bill” to table at the Union Parliament. Consequently, they also urged Prime Minister U Nu to initiate Federal Seminar in Rangoon to discuss the future of Burma Union and implementation of federalism in the Union of Burma.

The Prime Minister and all Burman ethnic national leaders understood that Federal Bill was ready to table in the Union Parliament for amending the Constitution of the Union of Burma (1948) and it will be passed without difficulties since all non-Burman ethnic national leaders favor to amend the Constitution according to the “Federal Bill”. They also understood that if the Constitution of the Union of Burma was amended according to the “Federal Bill,” the Burman will have equal status with non-Burman nationals although they are majority in population and in some other aspects.

Revolutionary Council Coup on 2-3-1962

The Burman nationalists, who were the high-ranking officers in Burmese Army, realized that the only way to safeguard Burman domination over non-Burman ethnic nationals is removing the democratic regime by force. Therefore, the Burmese Army led by General Ne Win staged a coup under the name of Revolutionary Council took the power on March 2, 1962. They seized the state power from the popular government, nullifying the efforts to establish a genuine federation that would guarantee peace and justice, claiming they did so in order, "to safeguard the possible disintegration of the union". They overthrew the 1947 constitution and ruled the country with martial law for 12 years.

New Constitution: Constitution of Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma (1974)

After the coup, Brigadier General Aung Gyi, the second most powerful in the coup have said to the media that the reason of the military coup was to prevent from disintegration of Burma Union and also indirectly indicated the “Federal Movement” was an evident to prove the coup. The Revolutionary Council arrested all participants in the Taunggyi Conference and sent them to jail without due process of law. Many prominent non-Burman ethnic national leaders were secretly murdered in jail. Subsequently, the Revolutionary Council drafted a new Constitution after ten years that came to force in 1974. The new Constitution not only disregarded the essence of Panglong Agreement, but also constitutionally expanded Burman ethnic national domination toward non-Burman ethnic nationals by creating Seven Divisions out of Burman inhabitant area. Therefore, under the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma (1974), the Burman had monopolized all legislative, executive, and judicial power by creating Seven Divisions and Seven non-Burman ethnic national States.

What happen to the ethnic groups that signed the Panglong Agreement? The Shan, Chin and Kachin?

(1) Kachin - Kachin state

Kachin, also known as Jinghpaw, Rawang, Lisu, Zaiwa, Lawngwaw, Lachyit.

The constitution of 1947 has promised that if a state finds the union is negative to its own national interest, it can leave the union after 10 years of independence,that is 1957.

The KIO(The Kachin Independence Organization)pointed out that the first constitution in 1947 was not drafted in keeping with the Panglong Agreement and ethnic minorities are yet to derive benefits from it.

Kachin troops formerly formed a significant part of the Burmese army. With the unilateral abrogation of the Union of Burma constitution by the Ne Win regime in 1962, Kachin forces withdrew and formed the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) under the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).

The KIA(Kachin Independence Army) was set up to fight for Kachin rights on February 5, 1961. Zau Seng and his brothers Zau Tu and Zau Dan along with hundreds of Kachin youth established in northern the Shan State Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). Their first operation was to attack a military base near Kutkhai, northern Shan State. Then they shifted quickly to Bamaw area in Kachin State. From this revolutionary base,they launched their long-term national revolution. On Mar 2,1962, Ne Win's Burmese Army seized the power through a coup.They ended the parliamentary democracy and abolished the Union Constitution. In the period between 1961 and 1976, the KIO/KIA fought wars with successive Burman-led central governments for secession. In 1975 the KIO leaders Zau Seng, Zau Tu and Pung Shwe Zau Seng were assassinated at the Thai-Burma border. Brang Seng took over as Chairman and Zaung Hkra as Secretary of the KIO. At that time the KIO was the main force in the National Democratic Front (NDF), an ethnic army alliance.

It changed its stance and demanded a genuine self-determined Kachin State since 1976.

On 24-2-1994, the KIO entered a ceasefire agreement with the regime (State Law and Order Restoration Council). In fact in 1963 and 1980 the KIO had already tried his best for domestic peace negotiation with Burmese authorities but in vain. A few months after the cease-fire, Brang Seng died. Zau Mai became KIO's new leader

KIA signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese military junta on February 24, 1994. It went ahead and supported the junta-formulated seven-step road map to the so-called disciplined democracy. In February 2001, a reformist faction within KIO staged a coup at the KIO headquarter at Lai Sin near the China border. They detented Zau Mai and later ousted him. Lamung Tu Jai became the leader of the KIO. Kachin Consultative Assembly(KCA), was formed in 2002 by KIO.

A political group formed secretly on 24-1-2005 The Kachin Solidarity Council(KSC) in Pang Wa, the NDA-K headquarter,including a Joint Military Commission and a Joint Economic Commission. It seems a parallel organization against the KIO's Kachin Consultative Assembly, KCA. They are in fact the border security militia group of Burmese Army.

Between 2004 and 2007, the KIO took part in the junta’s National Convention for drafting the new constitution. It submitted two key proposals for a genuine federal union and the autonomy of Kachin State. However, it was rejected outright by the junta. The proposal for a genuine federal union was jointly submitted with 13 other ethnic ceasefire groups along with a 19-point proposal for autonomy of Kachin State.

The KIO chairman admitted that the ongoing dialogue with the regime on the contentious transformation issue failed because only the armed wing, the KIA, was being pressurized to change into the Burmese Army controlled Border Guard Force(BGF).

The KIO and Burmese military officials met over the thorny BGF issue in Myitkyina the capital of Kachin State on January 29 for the tenth time but the meeting ended with no result

Other than KIO, and KSC, other Kachin Organizations are:

1.Kachin Defense Army (KDA)
An armed organization founded in 1990 by Mahtu Naw, commander of the Kachin Independence Army's 4th brigade based in northern Shan State. After the breakaway from its mother organization, KDA signed a ceasefire agreement with the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council in the same year. The area controlled by KDA is now called Shan State Special Region 5.

2.New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K)
Founded by former KIO officers Zahkung Tingying and Layawk Zelum. NDA-K is the first Kachin group to reach a ceasefire agreement with the State Law and Order Restoration Council, in 1989, after the collapse of the CPB the same year. The organization is based in Pang Wa, former headquarters of the CPB's 101 War Zone, situated on the Sino-Burma border. The area controlled by the group is called Kachin State Special Region 1.

3.Kachin State National Congress for Democracy (KNCD)
A political party founded in Myitkyina by Kachin politicians led by Ubyit Tu, former State Council member of Ne Win's socialist BSPP government. The party won three seats in Kachin State in the 1990 general election. Leading party members were arrested and the party was barred from political activities after the election. The KNCD, led by Gumgrawng Zau Ing and Bawm Lang, became a member of the United Nationalities Alliances (UNA), led by Khun Tun Oo, chairman of Shan Nationalities League for Democracy.

4.Kachin People's Party (KPP)
Founded on April 17, 2002 in Thailand by young Kachin inside and outside of Kachin State to lay the foundation for an "appropriate and meaningful democratic nation" which is essential to Kachin people and to resist all forms of dictatorship and despotic rule. The KPP leader is Gumgrawng Aung Wa.

5.Kachin National Organization (KNO)
A political organization founded by overseas Kachin and a group of elders from the Kachin homeland on January 9, 1999. KNO strives for an independent homeland and democratic government. Its leader is Hawwa Ja La.

6.All Kachin Student and Youth Union (AKSYU)
Founded on August 5, 1996 by exiled Kachin Student in India. The same year, AKSYU became a member organization of the Students and Youth Congress of Burma (SYCB), an opposition student and youth alliance.

7.AKSYU branched out to open offices in Thailand in 1998, Europe in February 2002 and China in Septemeber 2002. The all Kachin Students and Youth Union (AKSYU) is currently a member organization of the Students and Youth Congress of Burma (SYCB), United Nationalities Youth League (UNYL), and United Nationalities' Democratic Congress (UNDC).
(source:

(ii)Chin - Chin state

The Chin Hills were one western region the Burmese retained after the rest of their western possessions--Assam, Manipur, and Arakan--were ceded to the British after the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824-1826. The British only acquired the Chin Hills after the Third Anglo-Burmese War of 1885. The ensuing Chin resistance to the British was suppressed only by 1890. The British administered the Chin Hills as part of Arakan Division. American missionaries began arriving in the 1890s and by the middle of 20th century, had converted most of the Chin people to Christianity.

Upon independence from the United Kingdom in 1948, Chin Hills Special Division was created out of Arakan Division, with the capital at Falam. On 4 January 1974, it was granted the state status and became Chin State.

Chinland was however divided, without consultation with the people, into two parts when the Burma Act of 1937 split Burma from British-India. The western part of Chinland remained under British-India and the eastern part came under the administration of British-Burma. When British India became independent in 1947, the western part of Chinland was divided again, again without consultation with the people, when India and Pakistan were divided. One part fell to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and the other part came under Indian administration.

While Burman nationalist youths formed We Burmans Association, launching a national movement, young Chin nationalists started a separate national movement under the name of Chin National Union(CNU). In 1933 the Union presented a demand for independence to the British authorities in Rangoon and in 1939, the youths who made this demand were arrested and jailed. When Atlee's Labour Party won the general elections and Atlee became Prime Minister in 1945, it became certain that British colonies were to get independence.

1947
1947 The representatives of Chin participated in Panglong Conference along with the Kachin, Shan, and Burman representatives, singed historic Panglong Agreement on February 12, 1947 to form a federal union with equal rights, privileges, and status including secession right.

1947 The Chin representatives participated in Drafting Process of the Future Constitution of the Union of Burma under the leadership of General Aung San. The draft Constitution was drawn up by a 111-member committee of the AFPFL Convention which met on May 20, 1947, and approved on May 23 when the Convention was dissolved.

1948
1948 The Union of Burma gained independence from Britain on January 4, 1948; and the Constitution of Burma (1947) was enforced. However, the Burman politicians disregarded the principles of Panglong Agreement so that the independence was stumbled with the civil war.

1948 Captain Mang Tung Nung formed the Chin People’s Freedom League and started the movement for the Rights of the Chin people. Over five thousand Chins from all over the Chinland held unprecedented gathering in Falam Town and proclaimed in their unity and determination to be free from traditional feudal administrative system, and adopted a democratic system of governance on February 20, 1948, which later became the Chin National Day.

1961
1961 In order to amend the Constitution of Burma (1947) into more federate features as agreed in Panglong Conference, the Chins and all non-Burman nationalities gathered in Taunggyi, the Capital of Shan State from June 8 – 16, 1961.

1962
1962 The General Ne Win and his associates staged a coup in the name of Revolutionary Council (RC). Many Chin politicians and scholars presumed to participate in Taunggyi Conference were arrested.

1964
Chin National Organization (CNO) went underground to overthrow the military junta and restore democratic government.

1971
Chin Democracy Party (CDP) was formed in liberated area to overthrow the military junta and restore democracy in Burma.

1972
Over 70 Chin intellectuals, who had made suggestion to Revolutionary Council on RC announcement No. 74, Date December 5, 1968, were arrested by the military junta and sent them to jail.

1974
The Revolutionary Council drafted and enforced the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma. The said Constitution has promoted and protected one party dictatorship.

1988
The Chin National Front was formed on 20 March, 1988, dedicated to securing the self-determination of the Chin people, to restore democracy, and to re-establish federal Union of Burma. It became a member of the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB) on November 18, 1988, and member of the National Democratic Front (NDF) on February 1989.

1992
The Chin National Front, as a member of National Democratic Front (NDF), participated and gave its consent on the Manepalaw Agreement to establish genuine Federal Union. The Manepalaw Agreement was signed by National Democratic Front, Democratic Alliance of Burma, National League for Democracy (Liberated Area), and the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma on July 11, 1992.

1993
The first Chin National Front’s Party Conference was held in the General Headquarters of Chin National Front on June 9 – 16, 1993 and the Government of Chinland was formed.

1997 Maetharawhta Agreement
The Chin National Front participated and signed the Maetharawhta Agreement. The Agreement was signed by KNPP, PPLO, WNO, UWSP, PSLF, KIO, AASYC, LDF, NMSP, ALP, KNLP, SURA, CNF, SDU, and KNU.

1997 The second Chin National Front’s Party Conference was held at the Camp Victorian from June 20 – July 8, 1997.

1998 The First Chin Seminar was held in Ottawa, Canada and attended by 17 Chin compatriots - including former Members of Parliament, Elected Members of Parliament, Religious leaders, Chin scholars, and activists. The attendants formed the Chin Forum to work together by the Chin individuals on Chinland Constitution, Development, Communication, Education, and Historical Research.

2001 The Chin National Front became a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), representing the Chin people.

2004 A Chin Consensus Building Seminar was held in Camp Victoria, the General Headquarters of the Chin National Front, Chinland and attended by representatives of Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD), Chin National Front (CNF), Mara Peoples Party (MPP), Zomi National Congress (ZNC), as well as 95 representatives from Chin Civic Organizations/Socities based in and outside Chinland. The attendants of the said seminar formed Political Affairs Committee of Chinland (PACC) based on Chin National Political Parties.

2006 Chin National Council
The Political Affairs Committee of Chinland (PACC) conducts the first Chin National Assembly at Mt. Sainai and the Chin National Council was formed. The Chin National Council comprises the Chin National Front, Chin National League for Democracy, Mara Peoples Party, Zomi National Congress and Civic Organizations to promote, protect, safeguard, and working together to implement the Chin national interests and benefits.

The Chin National Front is a member of the National Democratic Front, which consists with leadership of political wings in the ethnic groups. The NDF was established in May 10, 1976 at Manerplaw, Kawtoolay by 12 different Ethnic political parties and organizations, such as the Arakan, Chin, Karen, Karenni, Kachin, Lahu, Mon, Pa-O, Palaung, Shan and Wa. The NDF is the first and most successful union of all of the ethnic groups who are working together to develop the best strategy for a Federal Union and topple military regime.

Current member organization of NDF

1) Arakan Liberation Party (ALP)
2) Chin National Front (CNF)
3) Karen National Union (KNU)
4) Lahu Democratic Union (LDU)
5) New Mon State Party (NMSP)
6) Pa_O People’s Liberation Organization (PPLO)
7) Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF)
8) Wa National Organization (WNO)

The Chin National Front is also a member of the National Council of the Union of Burma, NCUB was formed on September 22, 1992 at Marnerplaw through the National Democratic Front. At the beginning NCUB was formed with 4 big Organizations such as NDF, DAB, NLD(LA) and NCGUB and now MPU is working on behalf of the NCGUB. It was originally aimed for NCUB to perform both the responsibilities of the United front, as well as, the Parliament.

(source: http://www.chinland.org)

(iii) Shan - Shan state

The Shan State, is a co-founder of the Union by virtue of 1947 Panglong Agreement, Shan State is the biggest state in Burma. Shan State was the only entity to gain the right of secession in 10 years from independence, in 1957.

The date 7th February 1947 is a defining moment in the record of the Shan history as a modern nation. On that day, Shan princes and the people's representatives of the Shan States demonstrated their newfound unity to declare it a "national day" which were followed by the resolutions of "Shan National Anthem", "Shan National Flag" and the formation of "Shan State Council" on the 11th and 15th of February, 1947 respectively. These had been done without reference to the British colonial overlords, who claimed protectorship over the Federated Shan States since 1886-87 (one year after the fall of the Burman kingdom and the Alaungpaya or Gonbaung dynasty).

The formation of the Shan State Council by Shan leaders autonomously of the British represents a declaration by the Shan that they are a sovereign, free nation. This bold action constitutes a Shan declaration of independence from foreign rule, and the date, 7th February 1947, marks the entry of the Shan people onto the world's historical stage as a modern nation.

The people of Shan States and leaders decided in this very year later at Panglong, on the 12th of February 1947, to join with U Aung San and the AFPFL (Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League) and leaders of other nationalities, to live together under one flag as co-independent and equal nations in a federal state. This marks the birth of a nation-state now known as "Union of Burma".

1952
In 1952 Burma invaded the Shan States under the pretext of fighting against Guomintang, Chinese nationalists fighting against the communist regime

1958
Shan rebellion, started in 1958 by a small group called Num Hsük Han (Young Warriors), now joined by the Shan State Army (SSA).

1961
In 1961, Shan saophas led by the first president of Burma and saopha of Yawnghwe Sao Shwe Thaik proposed a new federal system of government for greater autonomy even though the Shans had the constitutional right to secede. Though Shan leaders promised not to exercise the right, it was seen by the Burmese army led by Gen. Ne Win as secessionist

1962
Since 1962, when Ne Win's coup d'etat unilaterally abrogate the constitution of Union of Burma. Shan State has been treated as a de facto colony and occupied territory by the Burmese army, no longer an equal nation in a federal state. Its forced assimilation and Burmanization policies to subdue Shan's national identity have devastated the Shan homeland and make the people homeless and refugees.

By the early 1960s, eastern Shan State, festered with several insurgencies and warlords, emerged as a major opium growing area, part of the so-called Golden Triangle. Narcotics trafficking became a vital source of revenue for all insurgencies. Major forces consisted of the SSA, Communist Party of Burma (CPB) as well as those of drug lords Khun Sa, and Lo Hsing Han. By the mid-1960s, CPB had began receiving open support from China. Thailand also began a decades-long policy of support for non-Communist Burmese rebels. Families of insurgent leaders were allowed to live in Thailand, and insurgent armies were free to buy arms, ammunition, and other supplies.

n the late 1980s and 1990s, the military government signed ceasefire agreements with 17 groups, including all major players in Shan State. An uneasy truce has ensued but all forces remain heavily armed. Today, the 20,000 strong United Wa State Army (UWSA) is the largest armed group, and heavily involved narcotics trade. In the 2008 Constitution, endorsed by the Burmese junta, certain UWSA controlled areas were given the status of an autonomous region

1990

The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) is the largest winning political party in the 27th May, 1990 nation-wide election within the Shan States, representing the non-Burmese. SNLD, as well as National League for Democracy (NLD), participated in the "National Convention" (NC), formed by SLORC in 1993 in order to draft a new Union of Burma Constitution. State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) refused to honor the results of nation-wide multi-party general elections in 1990 in which NLD won a landslide victory – winning 392 seats out of the total 485 contested and the military backed National Unity Party (NUP) won 10 seats only.

But even under such circumstances and after more than four decades of brutal suppression and occupation, the Shan sense of "national identity" and the aspiration to be the master of their own faith have not diminish but have grown stronger. The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy's (SNLD) victory in 1990 nation-wide election in the whole Shan State; the continued political activities of the Shan State Army North within the limited political space provided by the Burmese military junta; the active armed resistance of the Shan State Army South, together with the bulk of Shan State National Army; and the highly self-conscious Shan civil societies in keeping the national identity alive under intense pressure of the Burmese military junta; are indications of a nation, which refuses to be cowed.

2008
Five of its non-Shan ethnic groups: Danu, Kokang, Palaung, PaO and Wa, were granted Self Administered status by the junta drawn 2008 constitution. But most opposition groups have put it down as a cosmetic one

Extract from the Myanmar Constitution Chapter 2

(12) The following detailed basic principles are laid down:

(a) to group together Leshi, Lahe and Namyun townships in Sagaing Division and prescribe it Naga Self-Administered Zone;

(b) to group together Ywangan and Pindaya townships in Shan State and prescribe it Danu Self-Administered Zone;

(c) to group together Hopong, Hsihseng and Pinlaung townships in Shan State and prescribe it Pa-O Self-Administered Zone;

(d) to group together Namhsan and Manton townships in Shan State and prescribe it Palaung Self-Administered Zone;

(e) to group together Konkyan and Laukkai townships in Shan State and prescribe it Kokang Self- Administered Zone;

(f) to group together Hopang, Mongmao, Panwai, Nahpam, Pangsang (Pankham) and Metman townships in Shan State and prescribe it Wa Self-Administered Division"


The Shan became a member of UNPO in June 1997, represented by the Shan States Organization (SSO), which is member of the SDU(Shan Democratic Union).

Shan State Congress(SSC)
The SSC, Provisional Shan State Congress formed in December 2008 at Loi Taileng, opposite Maehongson. It is formed by the Shan State Army (SSA) South, Lahu Democratic Union, PaO National Liberation Organization, Wa National Organization and others

Shan Democratic Union
On November 16, 1996, the Shan Democratic Union (SDU) was founded by key members of the Chiangmai-based Shan State Organization and the Bangkok-based Tai Union. The SDU is an umbrella organization, now functioning as the Foreign Ministry of Shanland with the tacit approval of SNLD and the formal approval of the resistance groups.

The Shan State Army-South
The SSA-South or sometime called Shan State Army has 5 bases along the Thai-Burma border:
1. Loi Taileng - its main base opposite Pang Mapha District, Mae Hong Son
2. Loi Moong Merng - opposite Muang District, Ma Hong Son
3. Loi Lam - opposite Wiang Haeng District, Chiang Mai
4. Loi Hsarm Hsip - opposite Fang district, Chiang Mai
5. Loi Gawwan - opposite Mae Fa Luang District, Chiang Rai

The Shan State Army-North
Shan State National Army

There was a Six State Military Alliance with Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), Chin National Front (CNF), Kachin National Organization (KNO), Karen National Union (KNU) and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), formed earlier but dormant for some years, and Yawd Serk expressed the need to revive this in anticipation of the 2010 elections.

From the above, the three ethical groups that signed the Panglong Agreement did not received any benefits of their right and autonomy; the Panglong Agreement had failed after 1962 coup by General Ne Win, Burma no longer a federal state, but a whole Burma is a unilaterally a military state. The people from the three ethical groups are still fighting for autonomy and resulted in many of them become refugee, especially Chin people.

Other non-participating ethnic groups

1. Kayin(Karen)
2. Mon
3. Rakhine(Arakanese)
4. Kayah(Red Karen or Karenni)

Even at the time, there was no representation from the Karen and Karenni,no consideration regarding the Mon and Rakhine as they fell within Ministerial Burma, and the Pa-O, Palaung and Wa were subsumed under the Shan states, although the Saopha of Tawngpeng Palaung substate was among the signatories. The Frontier Areas Commission of Enquiry (FACE) was set up in April/May 1947 as a condition of the Aung San-Atlee Agreement of January 27, 1947, and although the Burmese independence movement was represented by just one united front, the AFPFL, there were 50 often conflicting groups from the hill tracts; the Delta Karen, Mon and Rakhine were still excluded.

Mon and Arakanese are considered as Bahmar main stream, being two of Buddhist ethnic group. The other being Bamar(majority race), and Shan who are participating signatory of Panglong Agreement. The Karen and Kayah are always strongly for independence, non-participant of Panglong Agreement. However all the non-participatory ethnic group are actively involved in military resistance against the Junta. Even the Bamar people who the military Junta belong are fighting for the democratic Burma.

1. Karen

After the war ended, Burma was granted independence in January 1948, and the Karen, led by the KNU, attempted to co-exist peacefully with the Burman ethnic majority. Karen people held leading positions in both the government and the army. In the fall of 1948, the Burmese government, led by U Nu, began raising and arming irregular political militias known as Sitwundan. These militias were under the command of Major Gen. Ne Win and outside the control of the regular army. In January 1949, some of these militias went on a rampage through Karen communities. In late January, the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Smith Dun, a Karen, was removed from office and imprisoned. He was replaced by fanatic Burmese nationalist Ne Win.[2] These events happened at exactly the same time a commission looking into the Karen problem was due to make its report to the government. The events effectively killed the report. The Karen National Defence Organisation (KNDO), formed in July 1947, then rose up in an insurgency against the government. They were helped by the defections of the Karen Rifles and the Union Military Police (UMP) units which had been successfully deployed in suppressing the earlier Burmese Communist rebellions, and came close to capturing Rangoon itself. The most notable was the Battle of Insein, nine miles from Rangoon, where they held out in a 112-day siege till late May 1949.

Years later, the Karen had become the largest of 20 minority groups participating in an insurgency against the military dictatorship in Rangoon. During the 1980s, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) fighting force numbered approximately 20,000. After an uprising of the people of Burma in 1988, known as the 8888 Uprising, the KNLA had accepted those demonstrators in their bases along the border. The dictatorship expanded the army and launched a series of major offensives against the KNLA. By 2006, the KNLA's strength had shrunk to less than 4,000, opposing what is now a 400,000-man Burmese army. However, the political arm of the KNLA - the KNU - continued efforts to resolve the conflict through political means.

In 1994-5 dissenters from the Buddhist minority in the KNLA formed a splinter group called the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), and went over to the side of the military junta. The split is believed to have led to the fall of the KNU headquarters at Manerplaw in January 1995. The divided and ruled tactic learnt from the British by Junta. To create disunity among the Karen people, causing internal fighting within the ethic group, and weaken their demand and military power for independence. DKBA seems to fall into the trap just due to religion difference and perceived themselves a separate group support the Junta based on religion ground, instead the bigger picture of democracy and Karen independence.

The conflict continues as of 2006, with a new KNU headquarters in Mu Aye Pu, on the Burmese–Thai border. In 2004, the BBC, citing aid agencies, estimates that up to 200,000 Karen have been driven from their homes during decades of war, with 120,000 more refugees from Burma, mostly Karen, living in refugee camps on the Thai side of the border.

Many, including some Karen , accuse the military government of Burma of ethnic cleansing. The U.S. State Department has also cited the Burmese government for suppression of religious freedom. This is a source of particular trouble to the Karen, as between thirty and forty percent of them are Christians and thus, among the Burmese, a religious minority.

2. Mon

In 1947, the Mon presented a demand to safeguard their rights after independence, but the Prime Minister of Burma rejected it saying that no separate national rights for the Mon would be contemplated. Despite this, Mon National Day was created to celebrate the ancient founding of the Mon Kingdom of Hongsawatoi, the last Mon Kingdom, which had its seat in Pegu.

The desires of the ruling Burmese were forcefully imposed on the Mon people and resulted in a civil war. The Mon revolted against the central Burmese government in 1962 through the New Mon State Party (NMSP). A partially autonomous Mon state, Monland, was created in 1974 covering Tenasserim, Pegu and Irrawaddy. Resistance continued until 1995 when NMSP and SLORC agreed to a cease-fire. The following year the Mon Unity League was founded (MUL). That same year, the Mon people joined UNPO in their struggle for democracy and the preservation of human rights in Burma.
In 1997, SLORC was replaced with the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), and the military junta continues to terrorize all people in Burma.

The Mon people are represented in UNPO by the Mon Unity League (MUL).

3. Arakanese

In 1948, Rakhine became a division within the Union of Burma. Shortly after, violence broke out along religious lines between Buddhists and Muslims. Later there were calls for secession by the Rakhine, but such attempts were subdued. In 1974, the Ne Win government's new constitution granted Rakhine Division "state" status but the gesture was largely seen as meaningless since the military junta held all power in the country and in Rakhine. In 1989, the name of Arakan State was changed to "Rakhine" by the military junta.

Arakanese or Rakhine refugee faced problem,like Bamar as they are not strongly perceived as political refugee.

Arakan Liberation Party/Arakan Liberation Army (ALP/ALA)
Arakan liberation Party (ALP) that was successfully established at hlaing Township in rangoon on 9th April 1967. A 15- member Central Committee of the ALP was unanimously made up an active group of Rakhaing patriot youths. And Mr.Khaing Pray Thein was the first President of ALP. Arakan Liberation Army, or the ALA,was the military arm.

Arakan League for Democracy;

4. Karenni or Kayah

Whilst other states in Burma were annexed as part of India in 1885, the British recognized, by an agreement in 1875, the independence and sovereignty of Karenni State. When the Burmese received independence in 1948, they unilaterally included Karenni State in the Union of Burma, without the knowledge of the Karenni Supreme Council or the consultation with the Karenni people.

Since 1948, the Karenni people have resisted the Burmese regime and endeavored to regain control of their own state and preserve its traditions, culture and languages. At the forefront of this struggle is the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), which has led the armed struggle and organized aid to the Karenni people since 1957. A ceasefire was established in 1995, which collapsed within months. The KNPP has alleged an ethnic cleansing agenda by the Burmese military.

It has been put forth that the Karenni, in line with the policies of a number of other ethnic states, are in pursuit of establishing a Burmese federal union in which ethnic minorities would be offered autonomy.

Ceased Fire Agreement

Many ethnic military group have signed ceased fire agreement with the Junta. But there is no guarantee the Junta will complied with the ceased fire agreement. The attack on Kokang Chinese at the north near to China border, will provide evidence that Junta has no respect on law and agreement. Many ethnic have been fighting for their right for a long time, as long as Junta is in control, they have never peovide equal right to the ethnic group.

Panglong Agreement Revisit

The weaknesses of the conference and the consequent inadequacies of the Constitution promulgated on September 24, 1947, emerged soon after independence,

(i)In Arakan, the veteran monk U Seinda had already started a rebellion in May 1947.
(ii)The Karen had isolated themselves further by boycotting both the EC and the elections to the Constituent Assembly, notwithstanding seats reserved for them, though persistent in their demand for an independent state; their future was as a result left unsettled, deferred till after independence.
(iii)The Kachin had to make concessions in their representation in parliament in exchange for the inclusion of Myitkyina and Bhamo, towns with Shan and Burman majorities, in the new state, although in the hills the Duwas would continue their rule.
(iv)The Chin ended up with no state, only a special division.
(v)The Mon and Rakhine again were not even considered separately. One Mon group contested unsuccessfully at the elections which they claimed were rigged, but another boycotted; the Mon after independence threw in their lot with the Karen and joined the rebellion

One most notable agreement of the Panglong conference was granting full autonomy to ethnic nationalities, which has not materialised until today. The agreement was basically for establishing a federal state,which consist of independent ethnic states. The Panglong Agreement was not aimed to put an end to the traditional self-rule of the Frontier Areas. Failing to implement Panglong agreement has created mistrust and misunderstanding between the majority ethnic Burman-led central government and other ethnic nationalities. Autonomy has been a core demand for minorities since 1947, and continues to remain the fundamental issue. This reflected their strong will and determination for autonomy. The ongoing ethno-political conflicts, including armed confrontations, are largely the consequences of the failure to implement the Panglong agreement and ethical cleaning of Junta. As long as the minority concerns are not addressed, the conflicts in Burma are likely to remain even if democracy is restored. Any Burmese national leader need to aware of the autonomy issue.

Attempts by the military junta to annihilate any one of the multi-ethnic nationalities, militarily or culturally, is against the spirit of the Union Day and Panglong Agreement.

Autonomy is a political solution that can serve the interests of the Frontier Areas. However, the military junta sees it as something that would disintegrate the Union of Myanmar. Political autonomy is not tantamount to secession, but self ruled within a federal state. In other words, Burma's ethnic minorities are neither secessionists nor separatists. They believe that autonomy or self-determination would give them an opportunity to preserve their culture, language, and tradition. Their demand is not excessive and reasonably acceptable.

The minorities occupy roughly two-thirds of the country's total land area, and constitutes more than 30 per cent of the population. They have long advocated for tripartite talks involving the military, the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic nationalities, as endorsed by the United Nations since 1994. Aung San Suu Kyi to bring peace development and democracy to Burma, need to address the autonomy issue as utmost importance.

Had not Aung San promised political equality and autonomy to the Frontier Areas, the Union of Burma might have never been born in 1948. Panglong Agreement was the foundation for formation of Union of Burma, without the agreement, there is no Union of Burma.

Independent Burma was created on the clear understanding that it would be a federal union. The separate political rights of the minority national areas were recognized in the January, 1947, agreement between Aung San and the British Prime Minister Attlee. The rights of the national groups were also recognized in the February, 1947, Panglong Agreement between Burman leaders and other national groups, in the commission of inquiry on the frontier areas and in the independence constitution of 1948. Each of these fundamental political and legal documents recognized rights of self-determination of the indigenous nationalities. The 1948 constitution gave each nationality representation in a Chamber of Nationalities at the national level. The constitution specifically recognized a right of the Shan and Kayah (Karenni) to separate after 10 years.

These promises of autonomy and self-determination were betrayed. The denial of these promises led to armed resistance which, in the case of the Karen, began in 1949. The present constitution of Burma, enacted in 1974, gives no autonomy to the various nationalities and is against the Panglong spirit. In practice there is no respect for minority languages, cultures and political aspirations. The Government's response to the minority nationalities is purely military.

Ironically, Myanmar still claims to be a "union" and the anniversary of the Panglong Agreement is celebrated every year as "union" day. This is the biggest joke and mockery to democracy.

Will the coming election revive the Panglong Agreement, and give back the right of autonomy to the ethic groups in Burma?....Will the international community take up the challenge to ensure the ethical minority of Burma received their autonomy, as promised by Panglong agreement?....

It is time the international community take action; to ensure a democratic government is set up in Burma; and to ensure the autonomy of the minorities or ethnical nations, as promised by Panglong agreement.

Related articles:

1. Previous blog on 24-10-2009, Panglong Conference(彬龍協定)
2. Karen people, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_people
3. UNPO on Shan, http://www.unpo.org/content/view/7905/140/
4. Chinland, http://www.chinland.org/

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment