Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Incumbent Arakanese Political Leader, U Aye thar Aung

by Peter Smith
We Arakanese do not usually recognize the legitimacy of Arakanese political leaders who are alive. I think that this is a fundamental fault in the political thinking of the whole Arakanese people.  We only give special credits to deceased political leaders, which is also wrong. However, I have to say that there are some Arakanese political leaders who are still living and deserve special recognition from our own Arakanese people.  One of them would be U Aye Thar Aung who has devoted his life for the Arakanese people. He has spoken on behalf of Arakanese political body and he truely loves Arakan. Here in the below section, we will see the exclusive interview of U Aye Thar Aung by Irrawaddy magazine. I think that he stands in the right political position. I have personally heard from some renowned Burmese politicians that U Aye Thar Aung is very decisive and always stands in the right position.


First the Constitution, then the Election

The 2008 Constitution has no provision for establishing democracy, nor does it enhance the rights of ethnic nationalities, says Aye Thar Aung

Aye Thar Aung, 64, was the secretary of the Arakan League for Democracy, which won 11 parliamentary seats in Arakan State in the 1990 election in Burma but was disbanded by the military government in 1992. He is secretary of the Committee Representing the People’s Parliament, formed in 1998 by the National League for Democracy (NLD) and other parties that won seats in the 1990 election.



Question: What are your views on the upcoming election to be held in accordance with the new Constitution?

Answer: We believe the election will be held in 2010 to legitimize the 2008 Constitution and cement the junta’s administrative power, but it will not solve the country’s problems. The election cannot set the stage for a transition to democracy because of the 2008 Constitution, so it is essential to talk about the Constitution first.
The Constitution has no provision for establishing democracy, nor does it enhance the rights of ethnic nationalities, and it guarantees military domination of the government. Parties like the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, the Mon National Democratic Front and the Zomi National Congress that won in the 1990 election have already announced they will not contest the election unless there is a review of the Constitution. Likewise, the NLD said in the Shwegondaing Declaration that a review of the Constitution is a necessary precondition for participation.

Q: Do you think the 2008 Constitution and the demand for ethnic cease-fire groups to transform their militias into border guard forces will bring about the end of the decades-long armed resistance in the ethnic areas?

A: The ethnic cease-fire groups attending the National Convention [which ended in 2007] had the minimum expectation that ethnic birthrights would be given more respect under the new Constitution, and that legislative power would be shared at the central level, but at the state level, states would be given greater autonomy. The demands submitted by all the ethnic groups were rejected without discussion. This is why the ethnic groups are reluctant to relinquish their arms or to let their troops become border guard forces. The new Constitution provides no solutions. If the SPDC were to establish a genuine union in which ethnic states had equal rights in accordance with the Constitution, transforming ethnic militias into state guard forces would be possible.

Q: What are your plans to establish democracy and a genuine union if the military government ignores your demands and carries on with the 2010 election unilaterally?

A: It is neither suitable nor possible to speak on a detailed plan at this time. However, together with other ethnic parties and democratic forces demanding a constitutional review before the election, I can say we are prepared to choose alternatives in the struggle for democracy if the SPDC does not satisfy our demands.

We believe that democracy can come quickly only if all the ethnic nationalities unite and the Constitution is amended.

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