Group protests at Myanmar Embassy
By John Redmond
On a cold winter Sunday morning, a group of some 30 ethnic people from Myanmar and human rights activists met at the Myanmar embassy in Seoul to hold a pro-democracy and ethnic freedom of rights demonstration.
The protest was to mark “Union Day,” Feb. 12, which started in Panglong Town, Shan State, Myanmar in 1947.
Union Day is the birthday of the Myanmar nation. On this day, 23 representatives from four territories, which comprise the Shan state, the Kachin hill, the Chin hill and mainland Burma, signed an agreement in Panglong to form the Union of Myanmar. To honor this historical agreement, Myanmar people celebrated the day as Union Day across the nation on Feb. 12 every year. This day is the most important day in modern Myanmar’s history.
These four territories are also representative of almost the entire territory of the current Myanmar region as drawn in the country’s map. Not only did the Panglong agreement pave the way for the formation of the Myanmar nation, it also enabled the country to gain independence from the British emperor.
Significantly, the Panglong agreement guaranteed the people freedom in both the ethnic minority territories and mainland Burma, and included such things as equality and sharing together in the country’s prosperity. The core issue of the Panglong agreement was to set up “a federal system of government with full autonomy in internal administration.”
However, the country’s successive rulers, Myanmar military governments, have never implemented the Panglong agreement and have not respected Union Day since 1962, when the country fell under the military government’s rule completely.
In recent years, the military government deliberately drafted constitution in order to keep military control over the country, which is against the principle of the Panglong agreement, such as a 25 percent limit on seats for the military in parliament.
In a press release Sunday’s activists highlighted their core agenda including; stop the military rule and do not put their supremacy over civilians, restore and bring back the Panglong agreement and build the country as a genuine democratic system, immediately cease its human rights violations and religious repression and lastly immediately relieve the people from political and economic repression.
Another part of the statement encouraged Korean people become active.
“Furthermore, we ask that the Korean people and the international community show staunch support for the cause of democracy and the end of ethnic repression in Burma,” it stated.
The activities are part of an ongoing campaign and people interested in more information can contact John Smith Thang, executive director of All Ethnic Democracy and Human Rights Network at email@example.com or visit www.gbdigest.com.