In part two of her exclusive interview with Karen News, *Zoya Phan, the Campaigns Manager at Burma Campaign UK, outlines what she thinks the international community needs to do to have the Burma government engage in genuine political dialogue.
Zoya Phan said that despite some changes in Burma the country “still has a long way to go and lots of human right violations are still going on, for example, in Kachin State, Northern Shan state and Rakhine State, the government is still committing human right violations – the Burma Army especially continues its attacks against civilians – they are not interested in genuine political reform.”
Zoya Phan urged the international community to keep pressure on Burma’s government to ensure promises made by President U Thein Sein on reforms are kept.
“International pressure is very important to force the government into negotiations and into having a genuine democratization in Burma. What we need to see from the European Union, Australia government, America government, Canada and others and the rest of the international community is more political pressure put on the government in Burma – talk to them and then to pressure them into genuine negotiation with ethnic armed political groups.”
Zoya Phan insists that the Burma government has to stop its military from fighting in ethnic areas.
“The most important thing at the moment is for the Burmese government to stop the attacks in Kachin State and Northern Shan State and to have a nationwide ceasefire and then have a genuine political solution. And release all political prisoners in Burma and to repeal those oppressive laws.”
Zoya Phan told Karen News that the government needs to allow access to humanitarian aid organisations to work in rural areas of the country.
“President Thein Sein’s government needs to open up to more humanitarian access in different parts of Burma. At the moment, hundreds and hundreds of people suffer because of poverty, human right and humanitarian crisis. Thein Sein’s government still blocks international NGOs and international humanitarian aids in many parts of Burma – this needs to change. And the world’s governments should pressure the Thein Sein’s government to stop blocking aid to ethnic areas.”
Zoya Phan said the United Nation General Assembly has to do more on Burma.
“What we need to see is for the UN General Assembly to pass a strong resolution on Burma and pressure the government in Burma to have a genuine reform. If the government in Burma does not follow the resolution then the UN needs to take action.”
Zoya Phan said it is crucial that the government takes this opportunity to work for genuine peace for all the people of Burma.
“I am worried for my people and I am worried for my country, Burma. But there are also opportunities for us. I think for the Burmese government it is not to late for them to change and to have genuine reform in Burma. But the only thing that will change the government’s mind to have genuine reform in Burma is pressure. It is domestic pressure and it is international pressure. That’s why we need to see more pressure.”
Zoya Phan said it is also time, that ethnic people could live in a world without armed conflict.
“What I would like to see for my Karen people is for us to be able to live in peace without fear. Not just the Karen, for everyone in Burma. I’d like to see equality for every ethnic and for everyone, regardless of our race, our ethnicity, our religion, our gender and our background, everyone is equal and everyone should be treated equally.”
Zoya Phan said ethnic people have to have equal rights if the country is to have a lasting peace.
“What I would like to see in the future, in terms of political change in Burma is to have a federal system that guarantees equal rights for ethnic people where we have our own self-determination and autonomy, free from fear and have our own security – politically, economically and socially, to have our own government within the federal system of Burma. That is the only solution that will bring peace to the country.”
Zoya Phan urged all people involved in the country’s pro-democracy struggle to keep fighting for freedom.
“I’d like to encourage everyone involved in the struggle for freedom and democracy in Burma to not give up. We still have a long way to go – don’t lose hope. I think hope is very important and everyone can play different roles in the struggle and every role is important. So, please continue doing what we can to help our people back home in Burma because they need our help and we need to stay strong. And I am sure that one day, our dream of a free Burma will come true.”
*Zoya Phan is Campaigns Manager at Burma Campaign UK. Her autobiography is published as ‘Undaunted’ in the USA, and ‘Little Daughter’ in the rest of the world. She is recognised as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.