(Editorial) - We have been witnessing daily peace campaigns, exchange of views and opinions on peace, peace organizations being formed and peace initiatives taken up by the government.
Everyone aspires for peace. We believe only peace can bring about nation building. No one in the country will dispute the fact that peace must be achieved. Therefore, it is our responsibility to explore ways to achieve it.
We need to ask ourselves, what are the fundamental means to achieve peace? What is the people's role and how can we influence the government to take the road to peace? And then we should review our past experiences of peace talks and discussions.
We have made efforts to achieve peace in the past. The government has invited armed organizations for peace talks. Among them, the most significant effort was the invitation of all ethnic armed groups in June 1963 by the Revolutionary Council. The Council took control of the country by overthrowing the elected civilian government through a coup de tat in 1962.
But peace was not achieved at the discussions. It only added fuel to the ethnic groups' growing suspicions and grudges against the government. One might ask the question, why did the peace talks fail?
In the past, such peace talks were conducted with motto and principles, such as ‘exchange of arms with democracy’, ‘return to legal fold after realization of mistakes’, etc. The ruling government treated the revolutionary armed organizations high handedly. They only tried to gain political mileage from these discussions and achieving genuine peace was not their primary agenda.
To elucidate, the then state-run media published a photo, of an armed group crossing a river while returning to their base camp, with the caption - They turn their backs to the people’. Such acts only antagonize the armed groups further. In this way, reaching a destination on the road to peace has moved away from realization.
Furthermore, successive governments in the past chose the way of total elimination of the revolutionary armed organizations rather than trying to engage with them in political dialogues. They tried to resolve conflicts in the country by using force and violence. They even went to the extent of using the divide and rule policy with different armed groups by aiding and granting privileges to weaker factions and later, turning these factions into government forces.
The result, as everybody knows, is that armed conflicts in Myanmar has intensified and worsened to an unprecedented scale.
The experience has made both sides realize that using violent means to achieve peace, and law and order will only lead to further violence.
There is a possibility of multiple civil wars that have been going on in the country, coming to an end for good. We can infer that people can now see a ray of hope for long lasting peace.
In spite of its numerous obstacles, the road to peace itself, is a straightforward one. The government must renounce their total elimination policy and adopt an inclusive policy. They must abandon their divide and rule policy and use of force and violence. And at the same time they must embrace the policy of mutual recognition and respect, seeking compromise and negotiate settlement, and finally they should promote principles of unity of diversity and peaceful co-existence.
This is the only way through which we can achieve peace. Peace is the primary aspiration of our people. It is the foundation of progress and prosperity. We must firmly believe in peace building and ensure that we achieve it now, so that we can enjoy a bright future.