Myanmar Begins Five-Day Peace Talks With Insurgent Groups

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Myanmar’s state counselor and leader Aung San Suu Kyi began hosting a five-day round of peace talks in the country’s capital city of Nay Pyi Taw on Wednesday to broker an end to the violence that has plagued the country for decades.

Seventeen of the 20 main local ethnic groups who have mounted insurgencies in the country are meeting with the government to try and come to a mutual agreement at the Union Peace Conference, entitled 21st-Century Panglong, that will hopefully serve to continue to lead to a future of peace for the Southeast Asian nation.

“All our people around the country want peace. So I do believe we will be successful in getting it at the conference,” Khun Than Myint, the facilitator of the meeting said.

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Over 750 delegates, including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other representatives from the United Nations, along with civil, military, government officials, and insurgent groups attended the first day of the conference. This is the first time in nearly 70 years that armed ethnic groups have met with the government to try and establish peace. Since 2011, an estimated 100,000 civilians have been displaced by the violence, and an equal number of refugees have resettled in camps in neighboring Thailand with no plans to return home until the fighting is put to an end.

The previous military-led government in Myanmar managed to negotiate a cease-fire agreement with eight insurgent groups, but they failed to reach a compromise that would bring peace to the entire nation. Aung San Suu Kyi promised to make peace her main priority when she democratically came to power at the beginning of this year.

The Panglong conference is named after the town where her father Aung San, an independence fighter, hosted a conference of ethnic groups that would lead to the formation of modern-day Myanmar.

“Around the world, we have seen the tragedies that can ensue when leaders deny the need for democratic change,” Secretary General Ban said at the first day of the conference. “Myanmar shows what is possible, when leaders listen to their people’s genuine aspirations, genuine concerns of the people and genuine dreams of where this country should proceed.”

 

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About the author: Evan Vitkovski

 

An American writer, filmmaker, journalist, and blogger living in Taipei, Taiwan. So many stories to tell, so little time.

 

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