Peace forum targets trust building

Nyein Zaw Lin & Zarli Myint Oo

The biggest challenge for the peace process is to build trust, a peace forum in Yangon heard on January 7.

Dr Salai Lian Hmung, vice chairman of the Chin National Front, chaired the event and General Secretary Padho Saw Kwe Htoo Win  from the Karen National Union, secretarial member Hla Maung Shwe of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee, Yangon Region's social care minister Naing Ngan Lin, the Nyein Foundation’s director Ja Nan Lahtaw, Yan Kyaw and writer Naung Kyaw participated in the discussion.

The peace forum was held by the Centre for Development and Ethnic Studies to pinpoint focal points for the peace process, said centre director Salai Lian Hmung.

The centre is planning to hold the peace forums in Mon and Kayah states and other cities.

Hla Maung Shwe said: “I noticed that building mutual trust is the biggest challenge for the peace process. I am suggesting my view about building trust to reduce the problems.

"The process to build trust is easy to say but it is difficult to accomplish. If all leaders want peace and a federal democratic system, they need to cooperate and understand each other. False news can spark conflict while building mutual distrust. If all were involved in the peace process, the agreements for a national-level peace process would be achievable, he said.

Padho Saw Kwe Htoo Win said: “We want peace, however, we are building peace with distrust, concern and doubts. They don’t accept the word 'revolution'. However we use it. They said not to use 'civil war'. Another phrase is 'federal union'. Peace is essential for the future of our country. We need to be patient. Discussions like this build cooperation.”

Ja Nan Lahtaw said the government and army had the authority to make decisions on the peace process. All people involved in the peace process needed to be patient and disputes should be solved using politics instead of weapons, said the Nyein Foundation’s director. 

Salai Lian Hmung said: “We have suffered from the consequences of armed conflicts for almost 70 years. We should not blame each other for all our problems. We will have real peace if all people, including the government, army and ethnic armed groups, work together for peace."

Translated by Aung Kyaw Kyaw