65TH Union Day at Vancouver, BC, Canada

The community of Vancouver Burma Ethnic Nationalities led by Nai Krat Song and Saion Nammao quietly host the 65th Union Day Celebrations at the Surrey City, Centre Library on 11th Feb. It was attended by a few dedicated ethnic nationalities representatives where each group update their situation in the peripherals of Burma and Prof, Kanbawza Win, who will be celebrating his 75th birthday on Union day, delivered the keynote speech.

He highlighted the origin of Union Day of how in 1945, the Saophas (chief) of Shan States knowing that independence from Great Britain was at hand sponsored a Conference at Panglong a small town in Southern Shan States on March 1946 in order to discuss the future of the Shan States. The Kachin, Chin and Karen representatives were invited. The pre-war Prime Minister Galon U Saw represented the government and Thakin Nu represented the AFPFL. The outcome was that of a White Paper promising that no decisions would be made on the Frontier Areas without the full consent of the ethnic nationalities. This definitely proves that since that time the ethnic nationalities construe that Myanmar leaders were bad, not to be trusted as most of them were cunning and crafty. But soon the Myanmar ethnic leaders improved their relations with the ethnic nationalities and the Myanmar led by AFPFL made contact with Sama Duwa Sinwa Nawng, (Kachin), Chin leader Vamthu Mawng, and the Saopha of Hsehsaing Sao Khun Kyi etc.

Meanwhile a young leader Aung San as the Governor's Executive Council was able to convince the Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders to join with Myanmar ethnic groups to take independence. He was able to convince the ethnic leaders that he was a good Myanmar that can be trusted even though there were several bad Myanmar around. The end result was that a significant breakthrough was made at the second Panglong Conference on February 12th, 1947 now known as Union Day (jynfaxmifpkaeh). There were 23 signatories in all expressing their willingness to work with the 'interim Burmese government' in order to achieve independence speedily, and agreeing in principle to the formation of a 'Union of Burma. The Karen send representatives and but could not come in time while the Arakan, and Mon were not invited as they are treated as a conquered people by the Myanmar. The Karenni Chiefs refused to attend being itself an independent sovereign county. This proves that the ethnic nationalities of Burma or rather the Non Myanmar chose to give their trust on the good Myanmar.

The salient points of the Agreement was that the full autonomy was to be given to the ethnic nationalities and are to enjoy the rights and privileges as any other citizens of democratic Burma and have the right to self determination after. If they did not find it satisfactory Shan can secede from the Union after 10 years. This explicitly means that as a test case the fragile Union of Burma has been created.

So from this one can easily draw the conclusion that modern Burma was not owned by the Myanmar race alone. It was a home of all the ethnic nationalities and it is the people of Burma including the Myanmar and the non Myanmar that has owned the country of Burma

The first years of Burmese independence were marked by successive insurgencies by the Red Flag Communists led by Thakin Soe, (the first Myanmar not to recognize the Union of Burma), the White Flag Communists led by Thakin Than Tun (the 2nd Myanmar follow the same), and Yèbaw Hpyu (White-band PVO) led by Bo La Yaung (the third Myanmar group that refused to recognize the Union of Burma ) and of course the Mujahid now known as Rohingyas that want to take part of Arakan into East Pakistan, while Karen ask for their own State. Hence it was not the ethnic nationalities that were against the Union it was the three groups of these Myanmar and Rohingya that is against the Union of Burma. However the Majority of the ethnic nationalities especially the Shan, Chin and the Kachin soldiers rallies behind the Union government and made supreme sacrifices which explicitly shows that we ethnic nationalities loves the country more than the Myanmar.

But most of the Myanmar rulers were evil, crafty, and not trustworthy just like today while on the other hand ethnic nationalities leaders were simple and not so educated. Hence the U Nu Administration directed U Chan Htun to draw up the Unitary Constitution instead of a Federal one. The ethnic leaders knew this and so after 10 years to be exact in 1960s the ethnic brought up this matter at the Taunggyi Conference and the Shan Federal proposal was put up. The Myannmar group replied by the 1962 military coup.

Since then Burma was under one type of military administration or another under different pretext up to this day. Before 1962 there were only a few ethnic insurrections but as of today there is not a single ethnic that is not fighting against the Myanmar government. This proves that unlike former Yugoslavia one ethnic does not fight with the other but all against the central government, which clearly depicts that our struggle is not horizontal but vertical against the central government monopolize by the Military generals of the Myanmar race.
  1. One question can be asked here. Is it only the ethnic nationalities that are fighting against the central government? No there are democracy groups headed by the Myanmar students since 7th July 1962 when I was just a fresher at the University, since then successive students, youths and from all works of life, workers, farmers, monks, all have struggle against the tyrannical Junta. So as ethnic nationalities how do we view these struggling lots? Do we see them as Myanmar when their struggle is not confine to one race only but cut across all walks of life? Many of them have sought asylum like us. In other words we will be racist if we view them as bad Myanmar? We are in Diaspora. Don’t you think that we should join hands with them as they are also in the same category as struggling against tyranny? We should respect them and show our responsibility that we are in the same boat.
  2.  Let us look other people in Diaspora e.g. the Palestinians, how are they united and how do they support their people at home, how they can organize themselves and make their plight known to the world or shall we look at the Jews, how they control the financial resources and how they can send their money back to Israel? If a Jew meets another Jew, on parting they wish “Next Year in Jerusalem”. Why can’t we take a leave out of them?
  3. In any people there are good and bad people. The Aung San Generation like Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and well meaning Myanmar are good people. Our forefathers have trusted Aung San in as much as we trusted Daw Aung San Suu Kyi now. The bad Myanmar was and are the Burmese Generals starting from Ne Win up to the present Junta and their cronies and compradors. There are also bad ethnic nationalities and good ethnic nationalities. Those who have a cock eye and look only at the economic aspects to enrich themselves are bad ethnic nationalities while those who really work for their own struggling lot are the good ethnic nationalities. So also in the Diaspora community we must be able to differentiated the good Myanmar from the bad Myanmar now that we have been in Canada for quite sometimes. It is also our bounden duty to educate the bad Myanmar because their culture since 1962 is killing, raping and tricking other people. Until we can differentiate and chose these good Myanmar to be on our side, we cannot succeed and we are bound to be fugitives in other countries. Until and Unless we are united first among the ethnics then with the Myanmar.
  4. Remember we are ethnic nationalities and so it is our duty to try double hard. Harder than the Myanmar compatriots. They have to struggle only for democracy and human rights, whereas we have to struggle not only for democracy, for the prevalence of human rights but also for ethnic rights and self determination. For this we must have discipline, responsibility and respect. We want to be in the Union of Burma because we want to and chose to and not by any compulsion. There must be a national self determination at all times. Even though the ethnic nationalities did not want to be the Sword of Damocles over our Myanmar brethren they have to bear in mind that we are not a colonial people in perpetuity.
As sign in the Panglong Conference of 1947 where our beloved Bogyoke Aung San, the architect of the Modern Union of Burma founded we want not only to continue it but also to enhance it with the 2nd Panglong Conference under the able leadership of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Let us be united on this Union day, let us respect ourselves and to the the like minded Myanmar and most importantly let us show our responsibility by following the disciplines laid down by our leaders.

Then Saion Namon who act as the Master of the ceremony open up the floor to the participants and Prof. Kanbawza Win answer the questions

Question - What is the current situation in Burma? Do you think that the Thein Sein Administration is genuine?

Answer - No, I don’t think that the government is genuine. It was able to separate the pro- democracy groups from the ethnic nationalities when our struggle is almost the same. Two sides of the coin you cannot take the head from the tail. The classic example is now there are still more than 800 ethnic political prisoners languishing in the Burmese jails. They have able to coax Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to work with them just to lift the sanctions and other punitive actions by the West.

Question - Yes you have highlighted us to distinguish the good Myanmar from the bad Myanmar. What do you think of the Lady?

Answer - Surely,  Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is in the category of the good Myanmar, a rare specimen for the ethnic nationalities to trust. She says the truth when she said. Please don’t come back to Burma for your sake and for the country’s sake. Residing inside the country she knows more than us who are in Diaspora and knows the tricks and the cunningness of the serpentine brood of the Burmese Junta.

Comment and supplement by Kyaw Thi Ha

Yes I agree with Dr Win that as ethnic nationalities of Burma or even as a Myanmar like me should be able to differentiate the good Myanmar and the bad Myanmar. I belong to a Myanmar ethnic group and am the former ABSDF student and am the representative of NLD in Diaspora and I will have to admit that there are still very much bad Myanmar e.g. our former ABSDF leaders who had successfully turn the 20,000 strong students army to 200 now calling themselves to be Ba Hu (A[k) suppose to be working for the development of the country has gone back to Burma just to find out the resources for them from Daw Suu. We have labeled them as La Oo (vO). Under the smokescreen of working for the good of the people they are really working for themselves to be someone in Burma.

Question - What do you think of future Burma?

Answer - Remember, it was the Army generals with the backing of the pocket army better known as Tatmadaw that does not recognize the Union of Burma (Pyidoungsu) and want to treat the ethnic nationalities as a colonial people. We are not the minorities because the population of all the ethnic nationalities combine together is more than the Myanmar ethnic group. We are not just a small percentage like the aborigines (first nation) of North America. Besides as said earlier our struggle is not horizontal but vertical because unlike the Balkans we ethnic do not fight with another ethnic even though the Divide and Rule policy was practiced by the government. As long as it did not recognize the Panglong Conference of 1947 I think the struggle will go on. Unless Daw Aung San Suu Kyi can successfully call the 2nd Panglong Conference and complete the work done by her father there will be no peace. The Tatmadaw will have to be replaced by the genuine Pyidaungsu Tat.

The ceremony was closed by a short extempore by the Master of the Ceremony.

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