A man was arrested in the capital on International Peace Day yesterday for staging a solo protest calling for an end to divisiveness in Myanmar, after police had denied his request to protest saying it might alarm the public and undermine trust in the gov
Zaw Myint, a former member of the All Burma Students Democratic Front, urged the government to hold talks on the country’s future involving four parties: President Thein Sein, Lower House Speaker Thura Shwe Mann, Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services General Min Aung Hlaing, and opposition National League for Democracy party chairperson Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Zaw Myint said the four-party talks were necessary to prepare for negotiations with leaders of armed ethnic groups. “Why can’t they meet with democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi? We have to ask them why they can’t give the public a chance [to have a say],” he said.
“I hope the four-party dialogue can proceed for the sake of our country, which is facing so many problems like land grabbing, the minimum wage law, constitutional amendment, proportional representative system, a military that holds 25 per cent of the seats in parliament, the draft education bill, and eviction of monks [from monasteries],” he added.
Zaw Myint’s protest consisted of waving vinyl placards with slogans that said: “The public will only trust when they receive absolute freedom and peace”, “Please leave hate and grudges in 20th century”, and “We want to be proud of our country in the international community.”
Myanmar remains impoverished because its leaders have failed to unite and negotiate, he said. He blamed the assassination of independence leader General Aung San – father of Suu Kyi – on a lack of unity. “The same is true now,” he said, noting that Suu Kyi’s ability to help solve the country’s problems was being wasted due to a lack of unity. He described this lack of unity as the worst obstacle the country faces and said Myanmar’s future will be ruined if its leaders could not learn to talk with each other. “As long as the country’s leaders ignore this truth, its future will be bleak,” Zaw Myint said.
He had applied to stage a protest on September 15 in the Nay Pyi Taw Council area, but police denied him twice: on September 16 and 17.
Zaw Myint is the second person charged after holding a solo protest in Nay Pyi Taw.
Thar Cho who protested in Nay Pyi Taw on January 4 was charged with violating Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Act at the Pyinmana Township Court.
At the ceremony to mark the International Day of Peace, President Thein Sein said armed conflict is the result of a failure to solve political disputes and many citizens of Myanmar are still suffering the consequences of this.
"Since independence, our country has faced political problems. Failure to solve them politically led to armed conflicts,” the president noted. “Many people in the country are still deprived of the essence of peace. This impacts not only people in the conflict areas but every citizen. Therefore, peacemaking is a critical process for every citizen," he added.
The peace process is accelerating and a nationwide ceasefire agreement will be signed soon, the president said. At the same time steps are being taken to draft a framework for the political dialogues that will follow the ceasefire and every citizen will have the opportunity to participate in these, he added.
Armed conflicts are already being solved in some areas of the country and residents of these areas are enjoying the benefits of peace, Thein Sein said, adding that promoting peace was as important as ending conflict.
Thein Sein quoted late UN Secretary General U Thant, saying that love and affection could not prevent wars unless they were sown in the hearts of those who create wars.