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Burma's exiled ethnic nationalities seminar held in North America

Perspective on the 9th anniversary of cease-fire agreement
 
CHALLENGING THE 9-YEAR OLD CEASE-FIRE AGREEMENT
 
(By Sunthorn Sripanngern; June 29, 2004)
 
The obscure cease-fire agreement between NMSP and SPDC has lasted for 9 years.  Some veteran Mon leaders in exile in reviewing this agreement view it as a complete failure having no advantage at all for both the Mon people and the NMSP itself. But the NMSP leaders claim that there has been some progress, such as the expansion of Mon national schools; the freedom of party members to travel freely; and having access to the Mon population. General Khin Nyunt, when he first met the NMSP leaders in Moulmein in 1995 said, "within 3 years the Mon State will be modernized". The local Mon people were happy and hoped there would be some job security created in Mon State and an increase the living standards. Instead, the situation became worse and killed our hopes of any progress.
 
Many thousands of acres of Mon farmlands have been and continue to be forcibly confiscated by the military. As a result the local people are unemployed and have to flee from their homes seeking jobs with the poor in neighboring countries. The remaining people in the village, unable to flee due to poor health and family, are forced to work for military purposes. The military authority without any sense of future considerations forcibly extorts money and properties from the local people. They behave as they did centuries ago; no idea of modernity exists in the minds of the Burmese authorities.
 
Apart from the right of free expression, the rights in living according to Mon traditional and cultural rights are consistently violated. For the NMSP, after the cease- fire there was disunity among the party members. Some party members grabbed at the opportunity as a cash cow, to advance their personal business interests. After they were successful in their ventures they left the party. Also within the party's military force, some soldiers were not satisfied with the cease-fire and split the force into groups and left the party.  These are only some of the situations which have led to the disadvantages caused by the cease-fire, destruction to the environment and loss of our heritage has changed the picture. We respected the goodwill and political decisions of the NMSP leaders who advocated for their people and their country.  But they had no choice at that time because of internal problems and strong external pressure from the Thai government and other groups that made the NMSP fall into the trap of agreeing to a cease-fire agreement. There was no choice; it was something they couldn’t get away from.
 
Also in the latest situation of Burma , a delegation from NMSP is attending the SPDC's national convention. This time again the NMSP has no alternative, since all of cease fire groups must attend the national convention. They were the last group that decided to attend the NC. I believed it was not out of fear of SPDC, but a concern about the unity of the cease-fire groups.
 
According to the Mon saying “Chot Mooa Kataing, Kyaing Mooa Sako" to die in the one grave or alive together on the one mat—so they are dancing to the same tune. NMSP and their cease-fire alliances are in a small boat relying on their own rowers, trying their best at rowing toward the goal of Federal Democratic Country. Now they are in the middle of ocean, they cannot see the shore; they are preparing to face a rough sea and a severe storm that is developing around them. 
 
I deeply hope that the NMSP along with the other ethnic nationality parties do their best to achieve their goal of democracy and independence for our country.

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Kaowao Newsgroup is committed to social justice, peace, and democracy in Burma. We hope to be able to provide more of an in-depth analysis that will help to promote lasting peace and change within Burma.
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