- By Maung Khine Mar (Ahtet Min Hla)
Worthwhile in attaching with the words such as cherish, appreciate and treasure is the 4th of January 2019 on which we celebrate with much joy and happiness for 71st Anniversary of Independence Day. It has been (71) years that we regained independence from British colonialists and stand tall as a sovereign nation among the nations of the world.
Before going down into servitude in three stages, Myanmar had her own monarchy and autonomy, possessing superior and fine culture and residing together with diverse brethren in peace and harmony for many centuries.
During the reign of King Anawrahta, King Bayint Naung, and King Alaungpaya, the Kingdom was united with strong defence forces.
With the rising waves of colonialism across the world, Myanmar was ravaged by three wars in three stages and went down into life of misery and servitude.
Waging war on 5 March 1824, the British attacked Myanmar through First Anglo-Myanmar War with the pretext of Shinmaphyu Island incident, and that on 24 February 1826 the country had surrendered to British through the Yandabo Agreement. After the two years long war, Myanmar gave up lands of Manipura, Assam, Rakhine and Tanintharyi.
During the reign of King Bagan Min of Amarapura Dynasty, the British waged Second Anglo-Myanmar War on 5 April 1852, and annexed Lower Myanmar starting from Aunglan Town to downward Mottama, Bago and Yangon on 20 December 1852.
As the colonialists had intention in wiping out Myanmar from the map of the world, the British used the pretext of Bombay Burma Company incident and on 11 November 1885 started the aggressive war during the reign of King Thibaw Min.
On 29 November, they took away King Thibaw Min on Thuriya ship to Yangon, and thence to Ratnagiri of India.
Lord Dufferin, Governor of India, declared Burma as province of India on 1 January 1886.
Since the very day, when the independence was lost, people from all walks of life including the nationalities continuously fought back the colonialists.
Eventually after many decades, Myanmar regained Independence on 4 January 1948, and now it has been (71) years standing among the nations of the world as sovereign nation.
Independence and Peace
Today, Myanmar is an independent and sovereign nation, however, eternal peace is yet to attain, and therefore, the Union is moving with slow pace in its development. All the problems, difficulties and complications of the country centered at civil war. Immediately after (3) month, the Burma Communist Party went underground, igniting continuous civil wars that are still devastating in the country.
Staying alive at the status of Least Developing Country, the country is deprived of the human rights, security, economy, education, health, civil-military relationship in the demoralized and conundrum atmosphere, and the culprit is civil wars.
In fact, the building of peace is the same with the preservation of sovereignty, and that the task is to be implemented with the internal strength. It is therefore, all the stakeholders namely the successive governments, those who loved peace, and civil societies had poured out and still hammering in achieving peace.
Looking back into the episodes regarding the peace initiative, the first civil society that came out in quest of peace was “State Peace Association” headed by Thakin Kodaw Hmaing founded on 19 September 1948 with the intention to stop civil wars.
Words of Thakin Kodaw Hmaing regarding peace initiative was remarkable and unforgettable as he spelt out at “Sun Café” after his return from Germany for medical treatment on 27 August 1960. He said that it was the worst period according to his experiences as the whole of the nation was in misery and distress for (11) years since independence, that the root cause was the civil wars inherited from the colonialists, that if the civil conflicts could not be ended then the nation would be absolutely devastated, that he always urged since 1948 in setting aside the hatred, forget animosity, and work for peace, that the killing among brethren was enough.
Successive governments had worked out peace initiatives, since the AFPFL era, but in vain. During the rule of the Revolutionary Council, it declared General Amnesty in 1963, and discussed the ceasefire plan with the Burma Communist Party on 2 September 1963 that stretched out to 31 October 1963. Eight rounds of discussions were fruitless.
Moreover, in 1963, a peace talk was initiative with the combined forces of National Democracy United Front (Ma Da Nya Ta) comprising the KNU, Mon Pyi Thit Party, Karenni National Progress Party, Chin Leading Organization, but the efforts were unsuccessful.
On 14 November 1963, ceasefire plan and the peace initiative were all stopped, and later, Law Protecting the National Unity was enacted on 28 March 1964.
The year 1980 saw the peace talks with KIA, and the year 1981 witnessed peace discussions with the Burma Communist Party.
Post 1988 period was filled with the endeavors of the State Law and Order Restoration Council and the State Peace and Development Council in quest of peace through Exchange Arms for Peace Dialogue with (17) armed groups, and could stop arms conflicts temporarily.
Fine-tuning of both sides
Over the years in 2011-2012, the peace initiative was crafted in new paradigm, and on 18 August 2011 a peace call was extended, which was resulted with the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) on 7 August 2015. On 15 October 2015, the government and eight Ethnic Arms Organizations (EAOs) successfully signed the agreement.
On 13 February 2018, New Mon State Party (NMSP) and Lahu Democratic United (LDU) joined the NCA. The agreement is yet to sign by (7) EAOs namely the UWSA, NDAA, SSPP, KIO, OSLF –TNLA, AA and MNDAA, and also KNPP and NSCN-K.
The NLD government has issued the Myanmar National Reconciliation Process, and also Union Peace Conference –21st Century Panglong was held from 31 August 2016 to 3 September 2016.
The Second Panglong was held 24-29 May 2017 and 37 points Union Accord were approved by the Union Peace Conference-21st Century, and 14 points Union Accords were approved at the Third Conference during 11-16 July 2018.
Scheduled conferences are in the pipeline in 2018 and 2019, but the 2018 conference would have to be postponed to 2019.
Optimistic news emerged when combined EAOs namely MNTJP / MNDAA (National Party, and Democratic Alliance) ; PSLF/ TNLA (Palaung, and Ta’aung) ; and ULA / AA (Rakhine) have declared on 12 December 2018 that their organizations warmly supported the peace initiatives of the government and that they are ready solve the political issues through dialogue.
The declaration was lauded by UPDJC Secretariat Member retired general U Khin Zaw Oo, and the Peace Commission welcomed them to the peace table indicating to loop in the framework of the NCA.
Joining more signatories in the NCA could be interpreted as the journey is much nearer to peace, where the salvos and noises of the guns and cannons could be stopped. Only at that time, the foundation of the democracy federal system would be solid.
In fact, the peace process in reality is easier said than done, because when something seems like a good idea but would be difficult to do.
On 19 September 2017, the State Counsellor expressed her belief that the entire people now abhorred the war and wanted peace, and therefore, all the hurdles and challenges should be cross over and continued the peace journey.
Looking at reality on the ground, the contributions of the people, the perseverance of the stakeholders, the assistance provided by friendly countries, the level of the peace strategy, and the solid peace framework of the NCA, all point to the dawn of a peaceful era.
In the past, there were (130) disagreements between the two sides, and now, there remains only a few disagreements left to resolve, indicating the enormous success.
In conclusion, hailing the 71st Anniversary of Independence Day, the writer of this article would like to wrap up that the eternal peace is very much vital for the independence and sovereignty, and therefore, the existing opportunities with regards to peace should be implemented in high gear, so that Myanmar could stand tall as a nation in the midst of international community.
Translated by UMT (Ahlon)