The reader may have several answers, most of which we all have already either read or heard, especially that Shan State is rich in natural resources which is true, but means little compared to Burma’s geopolitical concerns. So says Josef Silverstein, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University, in his 15 page Politics in the Shan State: The Question of Secession from the Union of Burma (1958).
During these few days Aung San Suu Kyi’s initiated 21 Century Panglong Conference (21CPC) has gained momentum, as could be seen by her peace chief negotiator Dr Tin Myo Win’s meeting with the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) leadership in Chiang Mai on 3 June, followed by the latter’s team visit to Yangon , headed by Khu Oo Reh, reportedly said to have asked for a clear position of the government on certain issues and working out the details for the UNFC boss General N’Ban La to meet her.
The Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) that was signed by 8 out of 15 ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) invited by Napyitaw on 15 October 2015, contains two words that seem to have been resurrecting, at least to the military, the specter of the right of secession that had prompted it to occupy the Shan State since 1952, 4 years after Independence. This is in spite of the fact that its Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing is a signatory.
A new civilian government headed by the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw, took office in March of this year, bringing to an end more than half a century of direct military rule. The NLD government, which doesn’t control the crucial defense, border affairs and home affairs ministries, has indicated that it will prioritize several longstanding issues, namely national reconciliation, peace and the establishment of a “democratic federal union”.
Thew days reports were dominated by the visit of United Nations Special Rapporteur to Myanmar Ms Yanghee Lee; the appalling report of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Rohingya problem ; the killing of a Kachin youth by the military in Myitkyina, Kachin State; the government peace negotiator Dr Tin Myo Win’s deliberation to interact with Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs); Aung San Suu Kyi’s Thailand visit and the religious conflict that has happened in the latest flare-up of anti-Muslim violence in a village in Bago province.
The 1962 coup d’ėtat staged by General Ne Win ended an era of saophalong and mahadevi (ruling princes and princesses) in the Shan states, ushering in decades of repressive military rule in Burma. Like many Shan royalty, Sao Kya Seng, the saophalong of the northern Shan State of Hsipaw, was detained by the authorities. He had been in Taunggyi and was arrested at a nearby military checkpoint. He was never seen again. His last note was a signed letter smuggled to his mahadevi, Sao Thusandi, containing details of his detention and mistreatment in the ba htoo tatmadaw (Burmese military camp).
The government film review committee’s prohibiting the screening of a movie that portrays the disappearance of Saohpa Sao Kya Seng, who was traditional ruler of Hsipaw principality, have created an unusual uproar, as the tragic past have caught up with the guilt-denying regime’s responsible functionaries of the present.