A New Year’s Day meeting with Burma’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi fell flat when several ethnic representatives chose not to attend, while others expressed dissatisfaction at the substance of the talks.
Ma Thin Ja Sun Le Yi, one of 18 youths who attended, said talks had been “rather broad” and that she felt “dissatisfied.”
“What I understood from the meeting was that in order to achieve peace or unity, we have to build it by ourselves; we cannot rely on others,” she said.
The New Year’s Day conference was convened in Naypyidaw to bring together youth leaders from across Burma to discuss prospects for peace in the country with the State Counselor. Invited representatives from Karenni and Kachin states did not attend the meeting.
“We received an invitation but did not go because we wanted to voice a protest,” said Ko Kyaw Tin Aung, a youth leader from Karenni State. “Also, we feel that power is held exclusively in the capital [Naypyidaw].”
He added: “Kachin youth representatives could not attend because they live quite far away, and fighting is continuing in that area.
“There is no peace in this country because of the Burmese military. But they did not plan to discuss that [at the January 1 meeting]. That’s why we decided not to attend.”
Ma Thin Ja Sun Le Yi added: “The Kachin and Karenni representatives chose not to attend the meeting because they had been through this kind of lecture many times before. It is all talk and no action. They simply did not want to listen to it all over again.