The civil war in Burma will not stop until all armed organisations, including the Burma Army, are governed by the same laws said the Legal Aid Network.
The Legal Aid Network is a non-aligned organisation of legal professionals committed to “establishing a peaceful, free, just and developed society with the underpinnings of genuine principles of the rule of law” in Burma.
U Aung Htoo, a human rights lawyer and the founder of the Legal Aid Network said: “Both ethnic armed organisations and the Burma Army need to be under the same law. They need to be placed under the same law. The civil war issue cannot be solved if [the Burma Army] continues to think that only they can bear arms because they are the official army and the rest of the ethnic armed groups are all illegal armies so they need to be dissolved. All armed groups need to be under the same law. This issue needs to be solved first. One can’t solve the civil war issue without solving this.”
He believes that there will be no genuine peace until the Burmese Government forms an official organisation that includes the army and all the armed organisations.
He said: “A federal union army needs to be established with ethnic armed groups in order to truly end the civil war and have all armies under the rule of law.”
Under the present system there have been decades of conflict between the Burma Army and various ethnic armed organisation (EAOs). In that time neither side has been decisively victorious and the fighting is still ongoing.
Fresh fighting has broken out between the Burma Army and EAOs in Kachin State and northern Shan State since the 21st Century Panglong Conference was held at the beginning of September.
Dr Manam Tu Ja, the Kachin State Democracy Party (KSDP) chairman, said that for genuine peace to happen the Burma Army must fully cooperate with the peace process and work together with the Burmese Government, political parties, ethnic armed organisations and the public to implement the peace process.
He said: “The Burma Army needs to join hands and cooperate. It needs to cooperate fully. It can’t only cooperate partially. People say that we don’t have peace because the Burma Army has not fully cooperated in peace building. Skirmishes are still breaking out while peace is being discussed. These are unwanted wars.”
U Aung Htoo said that there would continue to be problems if every time armed organisations disagreed with each other they resorted to acting unlawfully rather than settling their grievances lawfully.
Translated by Thida Linn
Edited in English by Mark Inkey for BNI