Peace envoy urges religious, ethnic harmony
IN addition to establishing ceasefires between armed groups, Myanmar’s peace process should build harmonious relations between other groups in society, said U Tin Myo Win, the government’s lead peace negotiator and a veteran National League for Democracy member.
Speaking at an event marking the International Day of Peace at Yangon’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center, U Tin Myo Win said that since taking office in April, the NLD’s top priority has been resolving tensions between armed groups and bringing about a sustainable, lasting peace.
“Mutual trust, mutual understanding and cooperation” are the most important strategies to solve decadesold armed conflicts between different ethnic armed organisations and the central government, he said.
But he added that a broader approach to achieving peace should be considered.
“If we say peace, it should encompass, in addition to the armed conflicts, the non-peaceful situations among different [religious] groups,” U Tin Myo Win said.
He then thanked leaders from different religions who attended the event for their presence.
U Tin Myo Win’s sentiments were echoed in the UN secretary general’s own statement on the International Day of Peace
“Peace is about much more than putting weapons aside. It is about building a global society in which people live free from poverty and share the benefits of prosperity. It is about growing together and supporting each other as a universal family,” said the message, read on the secretary general’s behalf by UNHCR representative Giuseppe De Vincentiis.
Without solving underlying political problems, which have their historical roots in ethnic grievances, sustainable peace and national reconciliation cannot be built, Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong, vice chair of the Chin National Front, told the audience at the event.
Without mutual respect and recognition among national ethnic races, the decades-long armed conflicts in ethnic areas will not cease, he added.
“If we are headed in the direction of building a ‘national state’ under a single race, religion, language, it is a dangerous pathway.”
The government is taking action in this regard including the drafting of terms of reference for national-level dialogues to be held “ethnically, regionally and topically” in states and regions, said U Tin Myo Win.
He added that the government believes these national-level talks will be held in early November.
U Thein Zaw, U Aung Kyi, U Zaw Aye Maung and Dr Aung Tun Thet attend an event marking International Day of Peace at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center in Yangon yesterday.