- Maung Thaung Win (Ex-diplomat)
According to the definition of Myanmar Dictionary, “spirit” means “temper or disposition of mind; mental condition or disposition”.
Union spirit means the strong determination of all the national people to live in unity through thick and thin.
Myanmar is a union composed of national races, having different cultures, traditions and religions. The national races living in respective geographical areas have been living together in harmony and friendship.
Myanmar is an ethnically diverse nation with 135 distinct ethnic groups, and primate fossils found in the Pontaung Ponnya region, Magway Region are proof that the ancestors of Myanmar have habited in Myanmar for 40 million years.
The glorious cites and capitals like Tagaung, Sri Ksetra, Beikthanoe, Bagan, Pinya, Innwa, Sagaing, Myinsaing, Taungoo, Nyaung Yang and Kong-baung flourished and thrived in the country. Myanmar has a wealth of different cultures, each with its own set of traditions: from cuisine and dress to celebration, faith and occupation. All the ethnic races have lived in Myanmar with union spirit.
Unfortunately, Myanmar was under the British Colonization after waging three wars in 1824, 1852 and 1885. As a result, Myanmar was under colonial rule for 120 years.
By around the start of the 20th century, a nationalist movement began to take shape in the form of the Young Men’s Buddhist Association (YMBA) which was also known as religious association.
In 1920 the first university students’ strike broke out in protest against the new University Act which the students believed would only benefit the elite and perpetuate colonial rule. ‘National School mushroomed across the country in protest against the colonial education system.
A wave of strikes and protests that started from the oilfields of central Burma in 1938 became a general strike with far-reaching consequences.
All the ethnic races had struggled to fight against the imperialists in order to regain her independence. A national movement then emerged in the country and Thakhin Aung San led a group of comrades and formed Burma Independence Army (BIA) and drove the British out of the country with the help of Japanese troops. But, it soon became apparent that Japanese promises of independence were merely a sham. The Japanese occupation of Myanmar was the period between 1942 and 1945.
When the Second World War broke out, all the ethnic races had been in cooperation with the Allies to fight against the fascists. However, the British colonialists who came back to Myanmar were hesitant to grant independence to Myanmar nationals. It is evident that they intended to give independence only to the main land but not the hilly regions.
Bogyoke Aung San and national leaders held the
Panglong Conference on 12th February, 1947. Then they agreed in unison, and called for independence of the whole nation and signed the Panglong agreement. The essence of the Panglong Conference was the equal independence for all ethnic races in the country. The day that proved and highlighted the unity of all national races was recognized as “The Union Day” of Myanmar.
It is of vital importance for all the ethnic races to equally participate in promoting the national unity and the union spirit which can keep the Union strong. Moreover to ensure national reconciliation, it is essential for us to establish clear confidence and trust between the nation and ethnic groups so that we can create a trust-building process.
When we have gained national unity and national reconciliation, it is sure for us to be able to build a peaceful and prosperous Democratic Federal Republic. Moreover, cooperation should be made in order to implement the National Reconciliation and Peace process.
Union Spirit is the key
If you look at the current state of the world, you will find that countries that have failed to maintain their unified national spirit had fallen apart from saboteurs and internal conflicts.
Without unity neither lasting peace nor a Democratic Federal Republic will emerge in the future.
Our ethnic brethren also need to harbor the union spirit so that with one goal and one mind they will be able to march forward to lasting peace.
Lasting peace for all
Successive governments, with the aim of lasting peace in mind, have welcomed armed ethnic groups to unite as one. This desire finally culminated in the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) on 15 October 2015.
The NCA was signed between the Union Government, Hluttaw, Tatmadaw and eight armed ethnic groups. Additionally, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) on 23 January 2018 announced they would be signing the NCA as well.
The desire to unify all ethnic races with strong union spirit was evident in Panglong Village 71 years ago.
If we manage to solidify, nourish and maintain this union spirit in the years to come then there is no doubt that the lasting peace all of us wishes for will be within our reach in the near future.
Win Ko Ko Aung and
Zaw Htet Oo