တုိင္းရင္းသားအသံ တရားမွ်တမွဳအတြက္တုိက္ပြဲဝင္အသံမ်ား

တုိင္းရင္းသားအသံ
တုိင္းရင္းသားတုိ.၏တုိက္ပြဲျပင္းထန္မွဳ ကုိေလ်ာ.ေစခ်င္လွ်င္ ကုိယ္စီးအခြင့္အေရးေပးပါ၊

Legal counsel: Giving individual rights way to wind down ethnic struggles

One of the ethnic opposition’s foremost legal experts says one way to reduce ethnic tensions in Burma is to guarantee full individual rights to its peoples regardless of race and status.

Hkun Okker, legal counsel to the Thai-based Shan State Constitution Drafting Commission (SSCDC) and Executive Committee Member of the exile Burma Lawyers Council (BLC), was speaking at the 3-day workshop (16-18 March) on the second draft of the Shan State constitution which was completed on 20 September 2008. The meeting, attended by 20 delegates representing 7 major groups in Shan State, was held at an undisclosed venue on the Chiangmai-Shan State border.

Where there is full individual rights, the calls for collective rights, such as autonomy and ethnically-named autonomous areas, are weakened,” he added, citing Canada’s Quebec, where the majority of voters have kept turning down motions to set up a French dominant independent state in state-wide referendums.

Hkun Okker

Is he suggesting, by his statement, that democracy must come first before everything else including ethnic rights? “I don’t think so, at least in the case of Burma,” he replied. “Suppression of ethnic rights in the country has been going on for more than six decades that the ‘democracy first’ campaign is not practical. Democracy with ethnic rights, instead, should be the slogan to rebuild mutual trust first.”

Shan State constitution drafters, maintaining that their state has been legally out of the union since 1962, when the military took power and overthrew the pre-independence constitution approved by the ethnic nationalities in 1947, has been drafting their charter under the guideline: “To become a member state of a genuine federal union.”

Coming to the question of recommendations by a number of delegates to set up ethnically-named sub-states in Shan State, the biggest state in Burma, he said: “This is a natural response by each ethnic community to protect its identity, especially when it is deprived of its individual rights. If the country’s rulers believe geographical names will help cement unity they should lead the way by renaming the country on a geographic basis.” (A conference in 2000 had agreed to a federal structure for Shan State, formerly called Federated Shan States before allying itself with Burma, Chin, Kachin and others to form the Union of Burma.)

Myanmar or Burma represents the name of the majority race, although the ruling military council has claimed otherwise, according to him.

Geographic names can derive from names of rivers and streams like India, from names of persons like Rhodesia, America, France, Italy and Germany, he said. “You can even coin a new one like Liberia.”

The present Shan State used to be known as the Land of Mao, the name of a river in Northern Shan State. So far, the majority of respondents to a survey by SHAN have been cool to the whole idea.

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