88 Generation, Ethnic Alliance to Promote Reform in Myanmar

88 Generation, Ethnic Alliance Join to Promote Reform

88 Generation Students, 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, Myanmar, Burma, The Irrawaddy, Rangoon, Yangon, constitution, reform, politics, Thein Sein, National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi

Leaders of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society and the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) meet in Rangoon on Thursday. (Photo: 88 Generation Peace and Open Society / Facebook)

RANGOON—The 88 Generation Peace and Open Society has pledged to collaborate with ethnic leaders of the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) to advocate for constitutional amendments.

At a meeting in Rangoon on Thursday, leaders of both sides agreed to push for amendments that would promote a more democratic and federal political system in the country. The two groups have not collaborated formally in the past, although both have worked separately to advocate for democracy and ethnic minority rights.

The 88 Generation Peace and Open Society also recently pledged to team up with the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, to promote constitutional reform.

When asked about the collaboration with the UNA, Mya Aye, a spokesman for the 88 Generation, said it was crucial to focus on ethnic issues to put a stop to decades of conflict between government troops and ethnic armed groups.

“We agreed on three points of collaboration, including to hold inclusive stakeholder meetings, to amend Article 436 of Section 12 [of the Constitution], and to promote a democratic and federal system in the country,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Article 436 says constitutional reform can only take place with the support of more than 75 percent of the lawmakers—giving the military, which holds 25 percent of seats in Parliament, an effective veto over amendments.

Sai Nyunt Lwin, secretary of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) and a member of the UNA, said the stakeholder meetings would be particularly important. “From the meetings we will agree on a framework, and then the new government will continue to work through the framework,” he said.

Parliament is preparing to amend the 2008 Constitution, which was written by the former military regime. After soliciting feedback from the public last year, a new implementation committee has been formed by lawmaker to decide what should be changed in the charter.

Over the weekend, hundreds of protesters in Rangoon, Mandalay and Pegu Division called for changes to an Article 436 and another article that currently bars Suu Kyi from the presidency.

“Political movement outside of Parliament is needed. The government needs to listen to the voice of the people while amending the Constitution,” Mya Aye said.

The UNA is an alliance that includes representatives from several ethnic political parties. The 88 Generation Peace and Open Society is a political organization born out of the student-led uprising of 1988 that almost toppled the then-military government. Many of its members were formerly student leaders of the pro-democracy movement.

In a joint statement last month, the NLD and the 88 Generation said they had been working together toward democracy for 25 years, and would join their efforts to ensure a transition to “real democracy” by amending the charter. The association between these two groups was also not new, but previously under the government of President Thein Sein they had not formally cooperated in political activities.


4 Responses to 88 Generation, Ethnic Alliance Join to Promote Reform

  1. We need that. 88 Generation Group, NLD and Ethnic groups must stand together to encourage the regime successfully. These three groups will have full support from the public. Who win the hearts and souls of the public will decide future leadership of the Union. So far USDP regime’s leadership is dragging its feet too slow toward genuine democracy.

  2. George Than Setkyar Heine

    PEOPLE POWER at last!
    Suu Kyi led NLD, Min Ko Naing led 8888 Generation Students Group and now UNITED NATIONALITIES ALLIANCE (UNA) have JOINED HANDS to PUSH for AMENDMENTS as required and warranted in the first place as well.
    Than Shwe led military junta has DRAWN and PUT IN PLACE the 2008 Nargis CONSTITUTION as an INSTRUMENT and MECHANISM to ENSHRINE and HIGHLIGHT the ROLE of the BURMA ARMY, NO BETTER THAN A MERCENARY FORCE killing our ethnic brethren the KACHIN PEOPLE today and PROTECTING/PROMOTING CHINESE INTERESTS/PROJECTS in Burma today.
    The Burma Army founded by our late Gen. AUNG SAN has the OBLIGATION and BOUNDED DUTY to PROTECT BURMA’S SOVEREIGNTY, TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY and the PEOPLE most importantly from FOREIGN and DOMESTIC ENEMIES of course.
    Instead the BURMA ARMY is PLAYING a PROXY ROLE only to the CHINESE COMMUNISTS next door and PROMOTING/PROTECTING CHINESE INTERESTS in BURMA today, DON’T ARGUE man!
    As a result, ANTI-CHINESE SENTIMENT is OVERWHELMING and RIFE AMONG the PEOPLE of BURMA if you guys don’t know yet.
    And BURMA is a BUDDHIST COUNTRY, don’t forget as well.
    Hence, DESTROYING BUDDHIST PLACES of WORSHIP, SHRINES and MONASTERIES in BURMA would certainly HERALD DOOM, DESTRUCTION and DEATH least of all on ANY/EVERY ONE, CHINESE specifically for that matter, in case they BULLDOZE the BUDDHIST SHRINE at Letpadaung Copper Mine Project, trust me.

  3. The generals are attempting to pit race against race, religion against religion, prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer! We must not let that happen.

  4. I am very glad to hear the formation of formidable forces to give public pressure to the military-appointed parliament. Before 2015 election, the vital task of amending the illegal 2008 constitution is pressing issue. The all inclusive participation of ethnic brothers and sisters will definitely strengthen the people power. The trust is the most important ingredient for successful negotiation. The military regime had always underlined their terms for any negotiation, refused to listen to view of others, and forced their view on others. They deserve to receive angers and despair from the public and the country as a whole.
    I like to draw your attention to current crisis in Ukraine. The minority Russian descent in eastern Ukraine is now trying to break away from the Ukraine. It is clear that there is break down of trust between majority Ukrainian and Russian speaking minority. It is classic example of time bomb waiting to ignite at any given time.
    In Burma, we like to avoid political crisis/ constitutional shut down in future possible democratic Burma where people will definitely bring up their grievances due to new-found freedom. It will be mushrooming all over the country. I like to bring the attention to Arakan state where recent racial clashes erupted sponsored by the military regime. All people disregard of race, colour, religion, belief and religion should enjoy the freedom in territory of Burma without fear. All should establish the trust among the different races with mutual respect and responsibility. All must invest their allegiance in the democratic Burma. If we could establish strong trust happily in our country, no race group would seek succession from the union. The strong democracy and country is needed for Burma to be able to live in dignified manner with two giant countries surrounding us. The Rule of Law will tame the wild behavior.
    No one like to see the division of Burma due to break down of the trust between the races.
    I hope all of us like to see strong and respectable Burma in the global villages. All comments are welcome.

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