Burmese democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and new President of Burma, U Thein Sein, met in Naypyidaw on August 19 and held what state media called a “frank and friendly discussion”. Asked of his opinion on the meeting by Narinjara, U Aye Thar Aung, Secretary of the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) replied as follows:
U Aye Thar Aung: “Generally speaking, it is a good thing that President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi meet and talk. However, since I have no knowledge of what they discussed, it is hard for me to elaborate on the matter. Anyhow, Burma is now at the defining moment that demands the national reconciliation and a solution to the ongoing armed conflicts with ethnic groups. At such a critical moment, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is admired by the country, and President U Thein Sein, who represents the current government, meet, and this is really a good thing. Through dialogue, the nation’s important problems can be solved. If one meeting can not solve them, I believe, the next meetings will”
Narinjara: “Could we say this meeting indicates that Burma is rerouting to the right track?”
U Aye Thar Aung: “Such meeting could be seen as a positive step. However, it has to be honest and open. The nation, its ethnic groups and citizens, would like to see sincerity in the current government. There were meetings in the past, but nothing fruitful came out. I don’t want this meeting to be like the previous ones. It will be the best if this meeting can lead to serious dialogue that can build national reconciliation. That is what people want. That is what ethnic groups of this country want. That is the only way that can stop civil war and bring peace.”
Narinjara: “As an ethnic leader, how do you perceive this meeting?”
U Aye Thar Aung: Our nation is going through hard times. A meeting between the current President U Thein Sein and leader of the National League for Democracy is definitely a good thing. However, as an ethnic leader, I would like the ongoing fighting in the ethnic areas to stop and ceasefire to begin. When I say ceasefire, I meant not just for a particular region but for the whole country. Only after ceasefire can efforts to bring peace and tranquility be initiated and national reconciliation will become achievable. It will be great if we can do that.
Narinjara: Now President and Daw Suu met. People in exile after the 1988 uprising are invited to come back home. Also, we see economic workshops and forums. Could we say Burma is moving in the right direction?
U Aye Thar Aung: Though I can say meeting and workshops that you mentioned and also talks to reduce poverty are a good thing, we need to practically materialize them. Sweet talk is not enough. In the past, we have heard so many charming programs. But in reality, nothing results. Therefore, we should not applaud based on what we hear. We should only applaud based on what they actually do. There are so many things to do right now. To build peace with ethnic groups and to stop the ongoing armed conflicts are urgently required. On the other hand, U Thein Sein stated that some problems will be solved only through the 2008 Constitution. Such a statement will not help bring peace to the country. There are many sections in the 2008 Constitution that armed ethnic groups do not accept. The constitution also tries to force them to be the Border Guards under government command. Therefore, U Thein Sein’s statements contradict each other and I don’t foresee all that sweet talk will actually materialized into actions.