A new youth alliance that was formed during the recent National Ethnic Youth Conference have called on the government to allow young people to participate in the upcoming Union Peace Conference (also called the 21st Century Panglong Conference).The Union Peace Conference scheduled to happen at the end of the month will be the first time the new National League for Democracy (NLD) government sits down for peace talks with the armed groups. State Counsellor Daw Aung Suu Kyi said it would be all-inclusive, but it’s still unclear if the Burma Army will allow all the groups to participate after officially stating that several groups that it fought with in the last two years must surrender before ceasefire talks can begin.
Despite the NLD winning last year’s election in a landslide victory, the 2008 Constitution allots the army twenty-five percent of Parliament and control of three key ministries—Home, Border and Defense.
Representatives from the Ethnic Youth Alliance said that political dialogue about building a federal union must happen during the conference. They also called on the Burma Army to halt all offensives in contested areas of the country.
Clashes between the Burma Army and Kachin Independence Army have taken place recently in Tanai Township, Kachin State displacing over 200 civilians. Fighting is also happening in northern Shan State.
Over 700 youth from 26 ethnicities attended National Ethnic Youth Conference that went ahead despite a last minute suspension order by the Shan State government. It’s still not clear why the conference was suspended. Surprisingly, no legal action was taken against organisers after they ignored the official warning.
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