Ethnic leaders deny Minister’s claim it’s all about personal and business gains

Ethnic leaders deny, that by negotiating peace deals with the Burma government they stand to gain personal and business benefits, as suggested in a media briefing by Railways Minister, Aung Min.

Thursday last week, Burma Government representatives met with the Karen National Union delegation at Pa-an town, Karen state to discuss a ceasefire arrangement between the two warring sides. The government’s delegation was led by Railways Minister, Aung Min, told reporters, after the meeting, that ethnic leaders who signed ceasefires would be given citizen national identity cards that allowed them to do business.

“We will allow unrestricted unarmed travel and movement throughout the whole country to [ethnic] group members who have signed. If they don’t have ID’s we will make ID’s for them. When they have ID’s they will become full citizens and gain all citizen rights. If they have ID’s, they have the right to do business and to found a [political] party as well as contest elections.”

A senior official of the New Mon State Party (NSMP), that is due to have ‘peace talks’ with the government on 20th January, claims that his party is talking peace – not business nor the founding of a political party.

Naing Han Tha, secretary general, of the NMSP explained to Karen News.
“If the government is taking its time to achieve a real peace process by offering us personal business development, it does nothing but cause more pain for ethnic people. Having a political party is not the immediate solution for ethnic people – most observers know it is not easy to win a decision in parliament because the government already has the majority to win. It is really wrong if they think all the ethnic issues can be solved by signing a ceasefire, implementing a few development projects, and offering ethnic leaders – us – the chance to do business.”

Nai Han Tha what the NMSP and other ethnic groups wants is a federal union with the right to maintain their own individual culture and to build a long-term peace. Nai Han Tha said the NMSP was not satisfied with the current peace activities that are being carried out by government as they did not go far enough to offer a genuine peace.

Naw Zipporah Sein, general secretary of KNU told Karen News.
“We are trying to build a peace with the government for the whole country, not for ID’s or business opportunities. It is clear we there are more steps to the peace process than a signed ceasefire arrangement with the government.”

Ku Oo Rei, secretary for the Karenni National Progressive Party spoke to Karen News that the current government delegation is trying to distract and persuade people to see the government in a good light and not to take the ethnic issues and concerns in the ‘peace talks’ seriously.”

Railway Minister Aung Min’s delegation group has been given a mandate by the Burma government to hold ‘peace talk’ with the following ethnic organizations – Karen National Union, Shan State Army-South, Chin National Front, Karenni National Progressive Party, New Mon State Party, and Pa-O National Liberation Organization.

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