June 22, 2011

Ye — Since the Myanmar General Election, the first held in twenty years on November 7, 2010, civilians in Mon State are still waiting for political change to take hold inside their country under the leadership of President Thein Sein, whose party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), won the majority of seats.

Social Welfare; Nai Lawi Ong (AMDP)

According to political observers, civilians are doubtful that any serious political change will come about under a new civilian run government that is led by the USDA, a military backed organization. Nai Soe Maung from Ye, who voted for the All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMDP), says, “Things are the same as before and probably are getting worse here, so to show our spirit as Mon, we voted.” Another AMDP supporter, Nai Lun from Lamaing Town, says, “I have not been disappointed, while the USDP won the election unfairly, the AMDP did gain a few seats.”

In Mon State, USDP leader, Ohn Myint, a former Brigadier General formed a new state government with nine ministers.  Two were chosen from the AMDP, Dr. Min Nwe Soe from Mudon who was appointed to act as Social Welfare and Culture Minister, and Nai Lawi Ong (aka) Colonel Myint Swe, from Ye, the Energy and Electric Power Minister.

The Mon State Parliament has thirty-one seats, fourteen from the USDP, seven from the AMDP, two from the National Unity Party (NUP), and eight military-appointed representatives.

“We met Ohn Myint and the two Mon ministers at Kamawak during a religious ceremony recently, but I came away thinking that they wouldn’t keep their election promises.  They will not help our rural community,” said Nai Ein from Hneepaday village, which is located near Thanbyu Zayat Town.

The AMDP has tried to make aware the problems in Mon State and occasionally has called on the new government for cultural rights, including the right of the ethnic groups to teach in their own languages at the government schools and to improve economic development in Mon State.

AMDP Chairman, Nai Ngwe Thein, recently told the Myanmar media that he called on the present government to create productive employment opportunities in Mon State or more people will leave the country to seek better employment due to the poor economic prospects in their home villages.

While the political situation remains unpromising, the security situation in the border areas remains bleak and continues to jeopardize any positive change to the country. Military conflict has continued unabated since the election along Myanmar’s eastern and northern border areas with the Burmese Army moving in troops and targeting unarmed civilians in the ethnic areas to counter fresh attacks by the ethnic armed groups.

Shortly after the election, the ethnic armed groups rejected orders from the Burmese government to disarm and form into border guard forces, but instead over the last six months, have intensified their rebel attacks against the Burmese Army.

The Three Pagodas Pass border town has seen an increase in guerrilla attacks against the Burmese soldiers and civilians who support the Burmese government, while in recent weeks pockets of armed conflict have broken out between the BA and the Kachin, Shan, and Karen ethnic groups in other areas along the border region.  According to local sources, the Burma Army is beginning to move in their troops to the Three Pagodas Pass area in preparation for a military campaign against the Karen armed groups.

Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur, said: “The situation of ethnic minority groups in the border areas presents serious limitations to the government’s intention to transition to democracy.”

Debbie Stothard, coordinator for the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma), says a major problem with Myanmar’s political insecurity is the impunity of government officials who escape accountability for committing human rights violations. According to Amnesty International, Myanmar officials, who have committed human rights violations in the past, are granted immunity by the constitution in Article 445.

Many civilians in Mon State worry that the security situation may deteriorate even further. “The BA may decide to attack the Mon (NMSP), so we have to prepare for the worst,” said Chan Mon, a young activist from Ye.  Ye Township is the Mons strong hold area where the AMDP candidates Nai Myint Swe, Dr. Banya Aung Moe and Ms. Mi Myint Myint Than won seats.


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