"Please stop Crony capitalism-nization in Myanmar Now!"
Sunday, August 14, 2016

Burma Constitutional Conference (Videos)

Burma Constitutional Conference held in London,discussion is in Burmese.U Aung Htoo, the General Secretary of Burma Lawyers' Council discussion on "2008 Constitution" 

The international community, as well as the majority of people in Burma, has an expectation to transform the country from the rule of dictatorship to democracy by peaceful means, including political dialogue. The National League for Democracy (NLD)has repeatedly called for unconditional dialogue, based on principles of mutual respect and national reconciliation. More importantly, it is also time to observe how peaceful democratization of Burma can be achieved in a way that criminal accountability is sought while laying down a foundation for the rule of law, for long term protection of human rights.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Democratic and Ethnics groups say NO to 2008 constitution and 2010 election. There are very concrete reasons;

1.1990 election results are still pending to be honored 

2.Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and thousands of political prisoners still in the prisons 

3.2008 Constitution is designed to perpetuate military rule and adopted unilaterally 

4.Military will seat for 25% of parliament automatically 

5.Junta gives itself amnesty 

6.Does not respect ethnics rights 

7.2010 election will be held in accordance with 2008 constitution 

For more information please contact:

Burma Democratic Concern (BDC)
00-44-208 4939 137
00-44-787 7882 386

                                Burma Constitutional Conference (Discussion 1)


                                Burma Constitutional Conference (Discussion 2)


                                Burma Constitutional Conference (Discussion 3)


                                Burma Constitutional Conference (Discussion 4)


                                Burma Constitutional Conference (Discussion 5)


                                Burma Constitutional Conference (Discussion 6)





Friday, August 12, 2016

Learning to share A bout low hanging fruits

Day Four. Friday, 5 August 2016

A person with sweet mouth but sour bottom

One ought not live with such in the same house

(Shan proverb)

Has the peace process proceeded in strikes since the new NLD government took over? That’s the question the workshop tries to answer today.
First, the positive developments:
  • It has promised a federal democracy plus amendment of the military drawn charter
  • It is trying its best to include the 13 non-signatories armed movements in the upcoming Union Peace Conference, renamed Union Peace Conference (21st Century Panglong).
Through the new government’s efforts, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an alliance of 9 EAOs (some say only 7) appears to have accepted the government’s invitation to attend the Framework Review meeting, due 12-13 August, in Rangoon. The 3 excluded movements (Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and Ta-ang National Liberation Army) are negotiating with government representatives a public statement acceptable to both sides, after which they would be invited to join the UPC-21 PL. (There were reports that negotiations broke down while this report was being filed) The National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), a non UNFC group, has already accepted Naypyitaw’s bid to attend the Framework Review meeting. The United Wa State Army (UWSA), regarded as the strongest non-state rebel group, is also expected to join the UPC-21 PL on 31 August , if not the framework meet.
 At the same time, the workshop also points out that all these developments have come out at the expense of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) that was signed in October and ratified by the Union Parliament in December. “There was no need to bypass the NCA,” one comments. “The government could have achieved the same result by simply implementing the guidelines laid out by it.”

According to the NCA the Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting (JICM), composed of representatives of the signatories, is the highest decision making body.
The Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JMC), that deals with military matters, and the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) that deals with political matters, which include drafting/amending the Framework for Political Dialogue, managing political dialogues and holding the UPC, are formed by it.
The following are some, if not all, of the workshop’s observations:
  • The formation of the UPC-21 PL Preparatory Committee, ostensibly to convince the non-signatories to join the process in April. “The UPDJC could have done it just as well,” says one participant.
  • The dissolution of the UPDJC made up of 16 members each from the government, political parties and signatory EAOs, formed under (not by) the previous government, to appoint a new one headed by the State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, by the President.
“The UPDJC, as well as its chair, should be appointed by the JICM, if we play by the rules,” says another participant.
  • The 16 members from the political parties, also under the previous government, were chosen by the parties themselves, following the principle of inclusivity, as enshrined in the NCA:
National League for Democracy                                                 2 members

Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)                         2 members

Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD)                        1 members

Arakan National Party (ANP)                                                     1 members

United Nationalities Alliance (UNA)                                            1 members

Nationalities Brotherhood Federation (NBR)                                1 members

Federal Democratic Alliance (FDA)                                             1 members

Other Burma Proper parties                                                      3 members

Other States parties                                                                 4 members

“The government now says only elected parties are eligible, despite Article 22 pointing out clearly that they must be Tayawin (legal registered) parties,” an unhappy politician had told SHAN.
  • “The form adopted under the previous government wasn’t perfect,” he continued. “Because there was little time to hold a prolonged debate. But it closely followed the principle of inclusivity.”
Another politician explained how the political parties bloc attending the UPC had chosen its 150 representatives quota:

92           representatives from 92 registered parties

22           representatives, one each from elected parties

16           representatives chosen to the UPDJC

8              representatives, chosen as advisors to the UPDJC

12           representatives, one from each of the 13 parties elected to the Union Parliament (the USDP decided to forgo its right)

The government now says unelected parties should join the CSO Forum due to be formed in the unspecified near future. “This really is an outrage,” the first politician had exploded. “The government promised it would adhere to the NCA. It’s time to prove the deed goes with the words.”
  • Last but not least, the JICM has not been called since the new government took over. “Without the JICM, everything being done is illegal,” comments an EAO leader.
It seems, they say, negotiating with the elected government is tougher than negotiating with the USDP government set up by the military.
“The Thein Sein government had questions of legitimacy,” explains an academic. “So it was forced to make allowances, such as slackening the rules on the media and the political parties and initiating negotiations with the EAOs, in order to boost up its legitimacy. But the NLD doesn’t have such problems, if you overlook the fact that in most constituencies in states like Chin it had won by securing only about 20% votes (there were 12 Chin parties entering the fray).”

In addition, technical problems like lack of experience, inclination for formal  negotiations, and slow communication lines, both within and without, have been dogging the government’s negotiations, unlike under U Thein Sein.

No doubt, the government side has a lot of complaints against the EAOs too, like no longer having practically a single communication line as it did before they split into signatories and non-signatories last September.

The participants’ conclusion is that, first and foremost, both sides must return to the NCA, the only bond between the two sides, without which the peace process will become dangerously anchorless.

“You can look the other way once and it’s no big deal, except it makes it easier to compromise next time, and soon all you’ll be doing is compromising because that’s how you think things are done, “Jack Bauer, the character played by Kiefer Sutherland, tells his colleague in the popular TV series, 24, on corruption. “You knew these guys I blew the whistle on. You think they were bad guys? They weren’t. They were just like you and me, except they compromised once.”

Naturally, the next conclusion is to decide how it should be made known to the government side, ASAP. But that is another day, and another story.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Myanmar Must Free Political Activist

Khaing Myo Htun, a member of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) and prominent environmental activist, was arrested last week.

Hanna Hindstrom, Myanmar Campaigns Coordinator at ERI (English)


Tel: +95 (0)9976301937

Oo Kyaw Thein, Bertha Legal Fellow at ERI (Burmese, Rakhine, English)


Tel: +95 (0)9421720170
August 04, 2016, Yangon, Myanmar

The Myanmar government should immediately free political activist Khaing Myo Htun and investigate allegations that the army has committed abuses against civilians in Rakhine State, EarthRights International (ERI) said today.

Khaing Myo Htun, a member of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) and prominent environmental activist, was arrested last week accused of sedition and incitement under Myanmar’s draconian penal code after implicating the army in crimes against humanity and forced portering of civilians in the Western State.

ERI believes that these charges are politically motivated and being pursued to deter activists from probing ongoing human rights violations in Myanmar’s ethnic minority states.

“The army has once again demonstrated its ruthlessness and unwillingness to change by going after activists who dare to expose its abuses, despite the introduction of a new democratic government,” said Ka Hsaw Wa, co-founder and Executive Director of ERI. “Instead of prosecuting an activist fighting for social justice, the government should immediately launch an independent inquiry into these allegations of army misconduct in Rakhine State.”

“It is disgraceful that human rights activists continue to be persecuted for exercising their democratic rights in a country led by a former prisoner of conscience.”

The ALP provoked controversy in April when it published a statement accusing the Myanmar army of violating the Geneva Conventions by targeting civilians for forced portering and torture, warning that this could unravel the peace process. Khaing Myo Htun was subsequently charged under section 505(b) and 505(c) of Myanmar’s colonial era penal code – for sedition and incitement respectively – although his name did not appear on the statement. The charges were filed on 5 May by Lt-Col Tin Naing Tun, a staff general (grade 1) from the Sittwe-based Regional Operations Command.

Khaing Myo Htun later missed two court hearings because he was traveling and did not receive his summons, resulting in a warrant being put out for his arrest.

ERI has reviewed the audio and video evidence backing torture and forced portering allegations against the army and has deemed that they are credible. Similar abuses have been documented by other human rights monitors. The organization will be helping Khaing Myo Htun with his case, which appears to be linked to his political and social activism.

“Khaing Myo Htun is well known for his outspoken criticism of the military and unscrupulous corporations operating in Rakhine State,” said Oo Kyaw Thein, his lawyer and a Bertha Fellow at ERI. “It appears that he is being targeted as much for his advocacy on human rights and the environment as well as his political work. The charges against him have no grounding in the law.”

Khaing Myo Htun is a former student at the EarthRights School for human rights and environmental activists in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He is a committed campaigner, having worked with Arakan Oil Watch before co-founding Natural Resources for the People and becoming a board member of the Arakan Natural Resources and Environmental Network.

He later joined the ALP as deputy-spokesperson for the Information and Organizing Department. Its armed wing, the Arakan Liberation Front, was one of eight signatories in last year’s nationwide ceasefire agreement.

The National League for Democracy (NLD), which formed the country’s first democratically elected government in 60 years in April 2016, has pledged to free all political prisoners in Myanmar. But dozens of activists remain incarcerated and the ruling government has yet to adopt a comprehensive definition of the term ‘political prisoner’.

In 2013, ERI assisted another alumni and women’s rights campaigner, Khin Mi Mi Khaing, while she was on trial for staging a peaceful protest against land grabbing in Bago. She was eventually released after a long and high-profile court case.

“Fear, rights and truth [are] very interconnected,” said Khaing Myo Htun, speaking in a video filmed for ERI’s Faces of Change series. “To overcome the fear we must know our rights. One day when we know the truth and our rights, we will no longer have fear.”

His next court hearing is on Friday 5 August, when he hopes to be granted bail on medical grounds as he suffers from a weak nervous system and requires daily medicine.
Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ethnic Armed Group Leaders Discuss Formation of a Burman State

The Mai Ja Yang ethnic armed groups summit, pictured on its second day, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (Photo: Hein Htet / The Irrawaddy)
MAI JA YANG, Kachin State — On the second day of a summit in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State, ethnic armed group leaders discussed a draft constitution which proposes a single Burman state within a federal union.
Currently, Burma is made up of seven ethnic states—named for the Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon and Shan—and seven divisions. The proposed change is to combine three of these divisions—in which the majority population in most regions is thought to be Burman—to form a single Burman state. Ethnic minority leaders believe that this will foster more equitable political representation and sharing of resources.
While data from the 2014 census on the size of Burma’s ethnic populations has yet to be released, Burmans, or “Bamar,” have long been considered to comprise around 60 percent of the national population.
Nai Hong Sar, vice chairman of the ethnic armed group coalition United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), explained that ethnic minority leaders have difficulty accepting the current constitutional allowance for Burmans to retain political “control” over seven regions in the country and be allocated what he says are a larger share of resources.
“They [the Burmans] get seven kyats, but our ethnic group has only one state and we will get only one kyat,’’ he said, in an allusion to the famous remark by Gen Aung San in 1947 to the effect that if Burmans received one kyat, ethnic minority groups would receive the same. ‘‘Therefore, we cannot accept their constitution,” Nai Hong Sar added, explaining how he feels the controversial 2008 Constitution marginalizes ethnic minorities.
“Based on our current draft, Mandalay, Magwe and Pegu [divisions] will become a state for Burmans,” he said, adding that, “We all should all be equal.”
Ethnic armed group leaders adopted a draft federal constitution in Feb. 2008, after forming the Federal Constitution Drafting and Coordinating Committee (FCDCC). Burma’s current constitution—also ratified in 2008—was written by the country’s former military government and ratified by a nationwide referendum widely considered fraudulent.
The constitution has been extensively criticized for entrenching the armed forces’ presence in the legislature, for barring now-State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency, and for granting little autonomy to ethnic states.
Burma’s seven divisions are listed in the 2008 Constitution as Rangoon, Sagaing, Magwe, Mandalay, Irrawaddy, Pegu and Tenasserim. The FCDCC recommends that Rangoon, Sagaing, Tenasserim and Irrawaddy divisions—which have large ethnic minority populations—instead become what they term as “nationalities states.”
Nai Soe Myint, a senior leader from Mon National Party agreed with the proposed change. “For example, the ethnic Chin nationality lives [also] in Sagaing Division. The division does not only have Burman people. This is why we will call Sagaing a ‘nationalities state,’” he said.
Gen Bee Htoo, chief of the Karenni National Progressive Party and a senior UNFC leader, said that a federal system “based on nationalities” would solve many of the country’s problems stemming from what has long been perceived as Burman domination of political affairs, institutions and culture.
Not all were in agreement, however. The Restoration Council of Shan State—whose armed wing is known as the Shan State Army-South, and claims defend ethnic Shan interests—objected to the idea of Shan State being called a “nationalities state.” Shan State covers a large area of exceptional pluralism—in addition to the Shan it is home to considerable numbers of ethnic Palaung (Ta’ang), Pa-O, Wa and Kachin, among many other groups, and a significant population of Chinese descent.
Three groups absent from the meeting were the United Wa State Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army—all of which are active in Shan State, leading some ethnic delegates, including Bee Htoo, to recommend further discussion for a future “nationalities state” in the region. Other ethnic leaders present at the summit have suggested centering future talks around a “federal Shan State” instead, but clarified that such discussions remain in the early stages.
Naw Zipporah Sein, the vice chairperson of the Karen National Union (KNU), said that additional changes have been made to the FCDCC’s alternative draft constitution up through 2015.
“We will discuss and analyze the draft today. Then, if we need to, we could add more to it and approve it at this meeting,” she said on Tuesday at the Mai Ja Yang summit.
She added that the representatives from 17 groups present at the event would focus on discussing how to most effectively participate in the upcoming Union Peace Conference—slated to be held in late August in Naypyidaw.
“It is important for us to establish common ground,” Zipporah Sein said. “One group alone cannot build a federal union, or peace. We will only succeed in reaching our goal when all groups are included: political parties, democratic forces, and our armed forces,” she said.
The UNFC’s Nai Hong Sar said that current events have forced the Burma Army, which has long opposed the political aspirations of ethnic nationalities, to be more open to their demands.
“In the past, the Burma Army was opposed to federalism, but not anymore—they accept it now. They are worried that our ethnic groups will secede from the country. But no one is asking to secede—we just ask for our future federal system to have democracy, equal rights and self-determination. We just ask for this,” he said.
This article has been slightly amended to include the reference to Gen Aung San’s 1947 remark on Burman/ethnic relations.

Free Khaing Myo Htun


                                               @EarthRights International

"Fear, rights, and the truth is very interconnected. But to overcome the fear, we must know firstly our rights. One day when we know the truth and rights, we will no more have fear." - Khaing Myo Htun

EarthRights School Myanmar 2006 alumnus Khaing Myo Htun co-founded Natural Resource for the People in 2008 (NRFP). With NRFP, he facilitates workshops for farmers, women, and ethnic leaders on land law, power sharing, government and democracy, to empower communities to advocate for their rights.

Myanmar rebels hold rare meet as Suu Kyi yearns for peace

Flags of ethnic armed groups

MAI JA YANG (MYANMAR) (AFP) -  Leaders of Myanmar rebel armies held talks in a war-hit border town Wednesday, state media reported, as they prepare for a major peace conference with a government desperate to end insurgencies that have plagued the country.

Myanmar has been racked for half a century by ethnic rebel wars in its resource-rich frontier states, leaving tens of thousands dead or displaced.

Some groups have signed ceasefires but several other rebel armies are still fighting the nation's army -- including in the northern state of Kachin, where Wednesday's talks were held.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy activist leading the country's first civilian government, says ending the fighting is essential if Myanmar is to rise from the ashes of junta rule.

She wants to restart full peace talks within weeks.

This week's summit, held in a Kachin town ravaged by years of warfare, brought together "leaders representing 17 ethnic armed groups to search for common ground in working toward a federal system for the country", state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported Wednesday.

The negotiators, many sporting traditional clothing, gathered in a hall in Mai Ja Yang, a town ringed by displacement camps on the border with China, which also sent an envoy to the talks.

Peace is hard to secure.

Distrust in the still-powerful military runs deep and the rebel groups themselves are divided -- with four pulling out of the Mai Ja Yang talks at the last minute.

The conflicts are complex and fuelled in part by the illegal trade in drugs, timber and jade, much of which is funnelled across the border to China. Rebels use the proceeds to buy guns.

The former military-backed government launched a peace dialogue but failed to secure a nationwide ceasefire with all groups.

Suu Kyi has promised a greater level of federal autonomy in a bid to secure peace, but has yet to spell out how it would work.

It is a promise her independence hero father also made in 1947. It was ignored by the junta that took control several years after his assassination and ruled over Myanmar for almost 50 years.

Suu Kyi's ability to wrest a peace deal or decentralise the government will depend heavily on the support of the military, which remains a potent political and economic force.

It holds the keys to any charter changes, runs crucial government ministries and dominates the economy's most lucrative sectors.
© 2016 AFP
Saturday, July 23, 2016

Myanmar's peace process looks precariously poised

State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi, centre, listens to members of the Union
Peace Dialogue Joint Committee during a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar in May. (EPA photo)

Tomorrow's critical talks between Myanmar's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi and representatives of the armed ethnic groups, who have yet to sign the national ceasefire agreement (NCA), could put paid to the planned "Panglong" peace summit at the end of August. Weeks of preparation have brought the peace process to the brink of a significant break-through.

The Union Peace Conference as it is now called -- previously dubbed the 21st Panglong, after the historic meeting between General Aung San and some ethnic leaders in 1947, which committed the country to a federal state -- has been on the cards since Aung San Suu Kyi overwhelmingly won the elections last November. Since coming to power in April, she has said national reconciliation and peace is the government's top priority.

Aung San Suu Kyi's peace negotiator, Dr Tin Myo Win has spent much of the last few months meeting ethnic leaders and trying to agree on an agenda for the planned talks. Substantial progress has been made, and a tentative structure and schedule for future dialogue has been agreed -- at least with the eight ethnic groups that signed the NCA last October, during President Thein Sein's time.
As a result a "framework for political dialogue" has been agreed after four days of discussion between the two sides in Nay Pyi Taw earlier this month. This originally came out of the talks with the previous government, and was written into the NCA; the revised framework will be the basis of the discussions at the 21st Panglong conference.
Read More in Bangkok Post...