Can Enemies Become Friends?
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Can Enemies Become Friends?

By Azan

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

In politics, there is no permanent enemy or permanent friend. This is the thought currently shared by many armed ethnic group leaders, who believe that their once bitter enemy may in fact become their friend.

Since early 2012, the majority of armed ethnic groups in Burma have signed ceasefires with the government, the latter intending to institute political dialogue and to solve the ethnic political conflict that has loomed over the country for more than six decades.

One of the most well-known cases involved the ethnic Karen rebel group that, after being engaged with the Burmese government in one of the longest running civil wars in Southeast Asia, signed a ceasefire on Jan 25.

The global perception that the current government is sincerely attempting peace negotiations with armed ethnic groups became almost unanimously accepted after the Karen rebel group agreed to a ceasefire. Their 63 years of conflict with the Burmese government forced thousands of Karen people to seek refuge along the Thai-Burmese border.

Last week, during Norwegian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Torgeir Larsen’s visit to Kyaukkyi in Pegu Division, Minister Khin Yi demonstrated how his administration issued ID cards to Karen internally displaced persons (IDPs) for the first time, partly to exhibit the success of the ceasefire between the government and KNU.

In sharp contrast to the past, today the Karen National Union (KNU) leaders and the government peace delegation display joy about the peace agreement. Railway Minister Aung Min and Immigration and Population Minister Khin Yi wore traditional Karen clothing and danced with the KNU leaders. 

Other ethnic armed groups also appeared jovial. Officials from the New Mon State Party, Karenni National Progressive Party, and Shan State Army-South clinked their wine glasses together as they cheered with Aung Min after the peace talks.

It seems the armed ethnic groups share similar goals in recent ceasefire agreements. They want to (1) hold political dialogue, (2) hold Panglong-style conferences, (3) reach political accord, (4) ensure constitutional amendments, and (5) form a federal union and set up a federal army in Burma.

However, the government’s objectives appear quite different from those of the armed ethnic groups. Their goals include (1) guaranteeing ceasefires, (2) non-secession and state containment within the union, (3) forming political parties to contest in the upcoming election, (4) respect for the constitution requiring constitutional amendments to be formally submitted in parliament, (5) ethnic inclusion into the legal fold and formation of a single Tatmadaw (Burmese military) military force, and (6) adherence to the constitution.

Ethnic leaders say they disagree primarily with goal 5 that requires them to convert their troops to Border Guard Forces (BGF). They also assert that the Burmese government continues to focus on a similar policy to 2009, which forced all the ethnic armed groups to serve as BGF. When most ethnic armed groups rejected to do so, the ceasefire agreements failed in 2010.

It is crucial that ethnic leaders carefully consider how to obtain and further their goals through the government peace talks. Or do they believe enemies can truly become friends?

Feedback From
Date: Fri, Jun 8, 2012 at 6:08 PM
Name of sender: Lyih Dein
Email of sender: ldein@yahoo.com
COMMENTS : Despite different demands from both sides, they can reach some kind of agreement for a ceasfire.That's really amazing.I think animosity arouse from injustice and insincerity.Without justice and mutual respect friendship can't be profound.Where do we go from here is what remain to be seen. Let's be optimistic.

More articles from issue 04/2 More articles from issue 02/3
More articles from issue 04/2

- Divide of Opinion on Proposed Change to Burma’s Electoral System

- Armed Ethnic Conflict Potential Unlike Sri Lanka but Strong Ceasefire Agreements Still Needed for Efficient Peace Process

- Conference and Photography exhibit highlight Dangers of Dawei Seaport

- Land confiscation issue in Mon State addressed in Burma’s Parliament

- More Calls for Political Party Unification as New MDP Office Opens

- Dengue Outbreak in Mon State

- Mon Must Be Ruled by Mon (Interview)

- President To Offer Limited Rights To Teach Mon Language

- Government Denies Permission to Mark Martyr's Day in Ye Township

- “I do not want to let it Burn down like a Mon Monastery” says Ashin Nyanissara

- Mon Education Donations Don’t Reach MLCC Goal

- From Burma to Myanmar: Restoration of Burman Imperial Identity

- MNDF Party Returns after 22 Years with New Name

- AMDP Disagree To Join MDP

- 80 Families Forced To Move in Three Pagodas Pass Township

- NMSP Questions Effectiveness of Ethnic Conference

- Peace and National Army For Mon People

- Mon in Sangkhlaburi Celebrates Culture and Urges Preservation

- Aung Min promises “Death Railway” Reconstruction to Begin After Rain Subsides

- Peace Process Can’t Proceed Without Suu Kyi

- Anti-Drug Day Names Three Pagodas Pass as Key Drug Trafficking Corridor

- Low Salaries and Teaching Restrictions Pose Risks to Mon Literature and Language

- Government Using Development Projects to Eliminate Enemies, Says NMSP

- Rohingya Boat People Imprisoned by Burmese Immigration Authorities

- Mon to Prepare for Ethnic Constituency in Rangoon

- NMSP Holds Community Meeting in Sangkhlaburi

- The Role of Women in Local Peace and Development in Monland

- Still No Justice for Victim of Alleged Police Brutality

- MDP Travels to Naypyidaw to Receive Official Registration

- Can Enemies Become Friends?

- Security Concerns and Cancelled Speaking Engagements can't Dampen Jubilant Crowds at Suu Kyi Visit

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