The 2nd Mon Youth Conference began today and will continue until Friday, Jan. 29. 180 young people — ranging from high school and university students to civically-engaged young people from across Mon State — will congregate in a region controlled by the New Mon State Party. The conference will incorporate the Mon diaspora from across Burma and members of the international network of Mon youth living overseas.
The first Mon Youth conference took place in 2019 yet was postponed in both 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 outbreaks and the coup. This year, committee member of the Mon Youth Conference and Mon Youth Forum Advisor, Nai Nyan Seik Rehman, says the forum serves to address three objectives, one of which is approving a Mon Youth Policy draft in addition to electing a new leader for the forum.
“The third is to build solidarity among Mon youth and to engage in the current political situation in Mon — to look at interests in the future,” Nai Nyan Seik Rehman told DVB. “That means to engage with Mon political parties and to one day take part in the range of social and civil society organizations in Mon.”
Nai Nyan Seik Rehman and fellow advisors have spent the last couple years traveling the region to address topics of concern by holding workshops for students and young leaders. The Mon Youth Policy this year aims to draw up strategies for addressing 11 topics deemed as urgent, including environmental protection, politics, peace, education, and natural resource management.
Youth in attendance will be drawn from the New Mon State Party, Mon Unity Party, and a young monk solidarity group. Nai Nyan Seik Rehman says that the forum will also discuss development projects in the region, such as the expression of opposition towards a coal power plant in Ye township.
“Because they [stakeholders] don’t acknowledge the concerns of the community, we stand with the community and oppose this kind of project,” he said, adding that communication between Mon’s rival political parties is vital in addressing concerns they all share. “As youth, we stand for wanting them to merge into one party. We believe if they merge into one party, we’ll win this election in some areas [of mutual interest], so that means it will be beneficial for Mon people.”