- By Htoo Htoo [Weibargi]
Being a country consisting of different national ethnics, every individual belonging to the above-said national ethnic groups living in Myanmar has equal rights of citizens and other rights granted by the Constitution to the full. Accordingly, the First Pyidaungsu Hluttaw promulgated “Law Protecting Ethnic Rights,” in 2015.
At the time when the incumbent government commenced to take office, there were slight reduction in forming the Ministries, but as the national unity is the most fundamental necessity in the Union of Myanmar, in which a variety of national ethnics are co-existing the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs had been formed as one of the Union-level Ministries to separately deal with ethnic affairs in accord with the “Law Protecting Ethnic Rights.” Similarly, ministers for ethnic affairs had been assigned in Region and State Cabinets. By seeing these, we can be well convinced that the Government is laying great stress on the national unity, national reconciliation and internal peace.
At such a time when efforts are being made for acquiring the internal peace through the political round-table negotiations, the emergence of the Union-level Ministry which will focus the implementation of the benefits of the national ethnics will greatly help bringing armed conflicts to a complete end, bringing about the national peace and national reconciliation.
The Ministry has been learnt to have committed itself to accomplish the tasks for all the national ethnics to equally acquire all the citizen’s rights, to eternally co-exist with loving kindness to each other, based on the genuine unity spirit, to maintain literature, art, cultures, traditions and customs of the ethnic people, national characteristics and historical heritages of the national races, to develop the national unity, mutual respect and support among each other, to bring about the multi-sector development such as health, education, economy and transport and to fully acquire the rights of national ethnics included in the Constitution.
Personnel from the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs are the staff working under various ministries, consisting of national races with different knowledge, experiences and educational backgrounds to enthusiastically contribute their physical and mental efforts for the development of the national races.
The Ministry had been set up with the Office of the Ministry, the Department of the Ethnic Literature and Culture and the Department of Protection for the Ethnic Rights. Just at a glimpse of these names obviously enough, the Ministry had been formed with a view to bringing about long-standing benefits of the national races.
The Office of the Union Minister is dealing with ethnic affairs, in consultation with other ministries, Region and State Governments, regional ministries, NGOs from home and abroad. Such performances as negotiation for opening branch offices of the department in Regions and States, conducting trainings on capacity building of youths, collection of professional advices by holding discussions on principles of conservation of ethnic national’s literature and workshops on federalism, with the aids and supports of NGOs from home and abroad are being made.
Tasks for the emergence of national-level policy on languages under the aegis of UN and UNICEF are underway. With the contribution of voluntary labour of UNICEF, the Ministry of Education, governmental organizations in Regions and States, parliamentarians, civil societies and universities in cooperation, languages and literatures of ethnic national are going to develop very soon, to be of great help for their education.
In bringing about the benefits of ethnic nationals, operations are being made by linking with other ministries, region and state governments, global development institutions, ethnic literatures and cultural organizations and civil societies performing the tasks of regional development.
Department of ethnic literatures and cultures is performing the tasks of propagation of ethnic languages and literatures, acquisition of freedom to learn local people’s languages and literatures, rights to freely publish periodicals in their own languages and conservation of ethnics and their languages which are on the brink of extinction.
It has been learnt that performances are to be carried out in cooperation with ministries, regional governments and ministries, NGOs, civil societies and donors from home and abroad, for achievement the multi-development such as education, health and socio-economic development and for the convenience of roads, bridges, electricity and drinking water in the regions where ethnics are residing.
Peace and dispute settlement supporting branch under the department of protection of ethnics’ rights is to help the Union Government, Region and State Government and administrative bodies at different levels in the tasks of building up internal peace and regional peace, in cooperation with the respective organizations.
The Ministry will carry out the tasks of bringing about regional peace and stability, socio-economic development of ethnics, finding ways and means after making researches to get rid of difficulties on socio-economy, culture and literatures being experienced with the assistance of the Union Government and above-said organizations.
For national ethnics to acquire full rights of ethnics and opportunities as promulgated in the Law for Protection of Ethnics’ Rights and for them to systematically exercise these rights and opportunities, by-laws are being drawn up, with the first draft discussed at the workshop held at the Royal President Hotel from 31st January 2017 to 1st February 2017 and the second draft at the workshop held at Mingalar Thiri Hotel from 22nd June 2017 to 23rd June 2017.
In drawing up a by-law, responsible persons including ministers for ethnics’ affairs in Regions and States, representatives from self-administered regions and Hluttaw Representatives and those from civil societies transparently took part in discussions. In by-law, Union-level and Region-and-State-level tribunals are formed, with the intention of hearing, trying and solving violation of ethnic rights. Upon completion of enactment of the by-law, it will be of great help for the national ethnics to get their rights and opportunities to the full, including freedom of worship, expression and choice to cultivate culture, arts, literature they like, provided that they do not go against rule of law, national security, rules and laws promulgated for keeping people’s morality and ethics. And, they will come to have an access to research, creations, learning, conservation of their cultural heritages and etc.,.
The Ministry of Ethnic Affairs is opening Region and State Departments to implement policies, objectives and obligations of the Ministry, initially operating in Mon and Kayin States. Very soon, similar offices are to be opened in other regions and states. In appointing staff in those areas, local residents with the knowledge of respective languages are to be selected, it was learnt.
So as to wholeheartedly bring about objectives of the Ministry—conservation and up-gradation of literature and culture of ethnics, protection of their rights and socio-economic development of the national brethren by making the Union Spirit strong, good ideas, supports and cooperation are urgently needed from respective ministries, regional governments, international institutions, NGOs and civil societies from home and abroad, ethnic culture and literature associations, intellectuals and local populace. Then, it will be of great support for the emergence of the federal democratic union that the national ethnics greatly longed for.
Khin Maung Oo