|U S C A M P A I G N
F O R B U R M A
For Immediate Release: February 7th, 2004
Contact: Jeremy Woodrum (202) 223-0300, (202) 246-7924 cell
US Campaign for Burma Recognizes Burma's
Ethnic Nationalities' Rejection of Regime's Roadmap
(Washington, DC) A leading United States-based activist group,
the US Campaign for Burma, today recognized the public rejection
by Burma's major ethnic groups of a deeply flawed "roadmap"
to democracy promised by the Southeast Asian country's ruling military
regime. After the conference "Burma's Ethnic National Seminar",
which was held in an area of Burma controlled by the Karen National
Union, the meeting of ethnic nationalities called instead for a
"tripartite" dialogue between the military regime, National
League for Democracy, and ethnic groups.
The fact that the seminar was held in Law-Hkee-La Camp in the Karen
State, an area not controlled by the military regime, and organized
by the independent Ethnic Nationalities Solidarity and Cooperation
Committee (ENSCC), demonstrates that the regime has vastly overstated
ethnic support for its roadmap. Sixty-one delegates from 25 ethnic
nationality groups, including two groups that have entered into
cease-fire agreements with the regime, attended the six-day seminar.
In a statement, seminar participants said, "The seminar observed
that the [regime's] 7-stage 'road map' and the attempt to reconvene
its national convention, temporarily suspended in 1996, would not
lead to democratization and establishment of a federal union but
only sustain a military dictatorship in the country."
In addition to calling for tripartite dialogue, the group also
called for the formation of an interim government designed to facilitate
a "real and legitimate national convention" that would
result in state and federal constitutions. They also called upon
the military regime to stop military offensives against ethnic nationalities,
declare a nationwide cease-fire, and release all political prisoners
including 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
She has been in detention since May 30th, 2003, when regime agents
attacked her convoy, killing scores of members of her political
The politically courageous statement by Burma's ethnic groups comes
as the ruling regime has claimed it maintains ethnic support for
its proposed road map and national convention. Regime media outlets
inside Burma regularly trumpet the supposed relationship between
Khin Nyunt, the regime's notorious chief of military intelligence,
and ethnic groups. In reality, the regime maintains its closest
relationships with the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Myanmar
Nationalities Democratic Forces (MNDF). Both the UWSA and MNDF produce
and traffic significant amounts of drugs, while UWSA leader Wai
Hsueh Kang is wanted by the US, which is offering a $2 million reward
for his capture.
The result of the seminar echoes earlier statements by other ethnic
nationalities. In September 2003, Rangoon-based ethnic nationality
leaders from the United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD),
a coalition of 20 ethnic nationality parties, and the United Nationalities
Alliance (UNA), coalition of nine ethnic political parties, rejected
the regime's roadmap and instead called for tripartite dialogue.
The UNLD and UNA won a combined 67 seats in Burma's last democratic
election, which was annulled by the military regime.
"The message from the seminar should be a wake-up call for
community and the United Nations, especially UN special envoy Razali
Ismail," says Aung Din, policy director of US Campaign for
Burma and a former political prisoner. "If the regime wants
to talk about a transition to democracy, they need to spend less
time trying to sell their roadmap to foreign leaders and more time
engaging the democracy movement in tripartite dialogue."