Creating the conditions for successful peace talks
September 5, 2011
The Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) welcomes the peace talks offered by Burma’s new government, headed by President U Thein Sein, and the positive responses from all armed ethnic groups under the umbrella of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC).
Both the majority Burmans and the various ethnic groups in the country are hungrily demanding peace, and they welcome the prospect of the government opening peace talks. But, for the peace talks between the new government and the UNFC to work, it is necessary to have a countrywide ceasefire first, so that all sides will fully commit to a peaceful resolution.
Burma’s civil war has raged for over six decades, leading to many problems. If the new government and the armed ethnic groups are to hold peace talks, they must commit to peace. And finally, they must settle all problems related to politics, society, economics, and human rights, peacefully. There must not be a return to war.
If the peace talks are held, both sides must be sincere and consider the interests of the people. They should strive for the betterment of all ethnic peoples in the Union, especially those living in conflict areas and who have suffered six decades of war. The following points are crucial if the peace talks are to be successful:
- The countrywide ceasefire must be announced by the government, and all armed ethnic groups must agree to it, Each ethnic group then must form a delegation to participate in the peace talks. During the preparation phase, all internally displaced persons (IDPs) must be allowed to return to their communities safely.
- The armed groups belonging to both the government and the ethnic political groups must stop committing human rights violations against the local civilians in conflict areas, such as killing, forced recruitment for soldiers or frontline porters, inhumane treatment, and other abuses.
- All sides must cease confiscation of land and property from civilians. Soldiers must stop extorting and illegally taxing the people. And all troops must cease committing sexual violence against women.
In bringing peace, all sides must consider their past mistakes and agree to building a better future. Human rights, including the rights of minorities, must be respected. Wrongs of the past, such as cases of arbitrary killings and inhumane treatment, sexual violations, unlawful confiscation of lands, and other serious cases of human rights violations must be considered, and justice must come about.