Mandalay rallies in support of Panglong Conference
PEACE is coming and all Mandalay is coming out to greet it. Over the next week, political activists, civil society groups and ordinary residents throughout the region will be holding rallies in support of the 21st-century Panglong Conference.
Until August 8, processions, the distribution of pamphlets, musical concerts, public speeches and painting and cartoon exhibitions will be held in every township to mark what everybody hopes will be a giant step toward peace and national reconciliation.
The 21st-century Panglong Conference, scheduled for the end of August, is the cornerstone of the government’s peace process. Demonstrations in support of the event are also being held in the United States, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Japan and Thailand.
The first Panglong Conference took place in February 1947 in Shan State’s Panglong between the Shan, Kachin and Chin ethnic minority leaders and Bogyoke Aung San, who was head of the interim government and is also the late father of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
“All ethnic groups in our country have suffered from civil conflict for more than 60 years. Only if the fighting ends can our country pursue national reconciliation. We have to establish a federal union through national reconciliation and we hope the 21st Century Panglong Conference will bring solutions. To support the event, we will hold processions for nine consecutive days while other organisations put on concerts and people make speeches,” said organiser Ko Thein Aung Myint.
The run-up to the event began on July 31, when more than 50 people held a procession in Chan Mya Tharzi township in favour of a federal union, national reconciliation, an end to civil conflict and the successful conclusion of the conference.
Political activist Ko Aye Thein said the success of the conference was essential for the country’s development and the right of children in ethnic minority regions to continue their studies in peace, with the cooperation of all the peoples of the Union.
“I’m so glad to see public involvement in support of the second Panglong Conference under our new government. We’ve received applications for permits to hold bigger events and we’ve decided to permit all of them. Some ethnic armed groups have yet to sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement, which is essential. We need peace to pursue national reconciliation, and the search for peace requires respect for ethnic rights. I believe this second Panglong Conference will mark a turn for the better in our country,” said Mandalay Region Chief Minister Dr Zaw Myint Maung.
– Translation by Zar Zar Soe
Mandalay residents are holding rallies for the Panglong Conference through August 8.