Speaking at meeting with Kachin community members in Rangoon on Wednesday, the vice chief of staff of the Kachin Independence Army, Gun Maw Sumlat, stressed the importance of public participation in Burma’s ongoing peace process.
“The KIO [Kachin Independence Organisation] has stressed how crucial it is to have the public involved in the peace process,” he told an audience at a Baptist church in Sanchaung township. Peace between the government and the ethnic armed groups can only be achieved if the public endorses it.”
“We are constantly working to bring about a nationwide ceasefire and political dialogue.”
The event was attended by around 500 people, essentially all Kachins, who posed several questions to Gun Maw regarding federalism in Burma, education, social work and drug problems.
Doi Hseng, a Kachin youth who attended the event, said he wishes to contribute to the peace effort.
“As a member of the general public, I am delighted and encouraged to hear clear answers about the meeting in Laiza, and the ethnic groups’ stance,” he said.
“I will do what I can to help.”
Khon Ja of the Kachin Peace Network said the KIO leader’s remarks were a “beacon of hope” for the Kachin people, and warned that the Burmese government needs to be genuine about their work on the peace process.
Gun Maw Sumlat was visiting Rangoon in his capacity as a member of the Negotiation Committee for the Nationwide Ceasefire. He then headed to Chiang Mai in Thailand to attend a meeting by ethnic armed groups and political parties on Friday and Saturday.