Ethnic Organizations and Cooperation of Multiple Stakeholders in Strengthening Transition and Promoting Diversity in Myanmar
Time & LocationSession 2
Wed 11:00–12:30 Room 1.504
- Chosein Yamahata Aichi Gakuin University
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- Building Culture of Peace in Myanmar by Civil Society through Social Cohesion and Ingroup Socializing Myat Thet Thitsar Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation
One of the conflict drivers for communal and ethnic armed conflicts in Myanmar identified by members of Civil Society is an ethnic and religious exclusion. One of the inter-ethnic and inter-religious issues identified by the research is Burmanization or Majoritization which in fact is the prolong wound mainly started in Socialist dictatorship regime in Myanmar. Under the majoritarianism that is through Burmanization and Buddhisnization the multicultural nature Myanmar has never been truly activated. Myanmar currently has been faced with armed conflicts between ethnic armies and Myanmar Tatmadaw, and inter-ethnic conflicts. In addition, Muslims in Myanmar have also frequently been faced with violence by Buddhist communities. Civil Society in Myanmar is making contributions in building both positive and negative peace through different functions. The current presentation will focus on Myanmar’s CSOs’ efforts in building positive peace or building the culture of peace through the two functions ingroup socializing and social cohesion. The constraints and challenges for CSOs in implementing building culture of peace will be discussed in the presentation. The presentation is based on the research on the Role of CSOs in Myanmar’s Peace Building Process, conducted by Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation (EMReF) and Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative (IPTI) from 2018 to 2019. The research explored civil society activities’ peacebuilding activities in Myanmar according to the civil society and peacebuilding framework developed by Paffenholz and Spurk in 2006 and validated in a research project from 2007-2010.
- Civil Society and Land Related Activism in Chin State Rainer Einzenberger University of Vienna
The 2012 ceasefire agreement between the Chin National Front (CNF) and the Union government as well as the establishment of a state parliament following the 2010 elections opened new opportunities for political participation in Chin State. While civil society in the state has been traditionally dominated by church institutions, in recent years, non-faith-based groups and organizations are beginning to play a bigger role. They are increasingly engaging with, and at times confronting state actors and political institutions on different political scales, from the local, to the national, partly also supported by transnational activism. The paper will explore the area of land rights and resource governance, a particularly relevant field for civil society activism in the state, echoing problems in other parts of the country. A variety of actors, from inter-ethnic coalitions to independent activists are increasingly focusing on land rights. Their demands are diverse and include the recognition of individual land titles, as well as legal reforms and further autonomy regarding land and resource governance in Chin State under a federal system. Just as diverse are their forms of activism. Among other examples the paper will discuss a rare case of public street protests, which occurred in 2017 yet went largely unnoticed by (inter)national media and academic circles.
- Post-Socialism? A Comparative View of Political Transformations in Burma and Eastern Europe Michal Lubina Jagiellonian University
In the 1990s and 2000s, it was not unpopular to perceive Burma as a failed Eastern European-style revolution, where the regime somehow survived the social pressure, expressed in mass protests. After 2010s changes, that transformed Burma from its pariah position into more suitable international position, however, the Eastern European model became more comparable.
What makes Burma and Eastern Europe’s cases comparable is a) a unique mix of public will (expressed in free elections) with secret, behind-the-scenes deals of the elites, b) hard-won social liberties (such as freedom of speech) and pressure for change neutralized by social contrasts, tensions and oligarchization (cronyism), and c) reversal of democracy after initial enthusiasm. These three aspects make comparing Eastern European model of transformation with that of Burma not only possible but also intriguing.
- Re-Drawing Border: Self-Determination Movement Among Naga People Satoshi Ota Tama University
This presentation examines Naga people’s political view of their nation-building. Naga people are one of the ethnic minority groups living in Northeast India and Northwest Myanmar. Naga people mainly live in Nagaland but some of the subtribes live in the neighboring states such as Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, while others live in Myanmar. In the state of Nagaland, as the name suggests, Nagas are the main ethnic group, which includes Ao, Angami, Sema, Konyak, Lotha, Chakhesang, Rengma, Chang, and so on. Apart from the Naga people mentioned above, Tangkhul and Mao are large Naga groups that live outside Nagaland. In Myanmar, Sagaing Region is the area where a sizable population of Naga inhabits.
In the case of India, although Nagas are Indians by nationality, they bear a weak sense of Indian nationalism but instead, they are conscious about their Naga identity. Because of the process of being incorporated into India and Myanmar, some of the Naga people are claiming greater Nagalim which includes Nagaland, part of Manipur, Assam, Arunachal and Myanmar, and they claim political autonomy in the area. Given the above ethnopolitical backdrop of the Naga people, this presentation will explore the process of Naga’s incorporation into India and Myanmar historically and will also explore political groups which seek for Naga’s nation. Then, the presentation will look at Naga people’s views on the political movement for nation-building.
The opening of a new chapter in political history in 2016 gave much hope to the people and encouraged the international players to work with the NLD-led administration for bringing democracy, human rights, peace, and development, which had been absent in Myanmar for long. However, in contrast to the high hope and expectation, the realities on the ground are filled with many new challenges, unresolved old problems, and the emergence of sudden crises caused mainly by the multiple divisions exist in society. Due to the new opportunities and challenges faced differently by each group, the country is divided into a greater number of socially and self-identified groups in terms of ethnicity, religion, political belief, race, and social strata. Most of the recent crises are deliberately created by exploiting nationalism through religious extremism, ethnic inequality, colonial history, and multiple disparities, resulting in ‘instability’, ‘divisions’ and ‘conflicts’. Therefore, non-state players, starting from ethnic organizations, local academics, media, and individuals have taken initiatives to play constructive, supplementary as well as evaluative roles to support the fragile transition. They are bridging the huge gap left by the state by promoting fair rights and opportunities for development, and equal voices for justice and diversity as an obligation of the citizens.
This panel will be a platform of exchange among presenters and between the speakers and the audience to accommodate different ideas, socio-ecological information, situational analysis, principles and approaches in dealing with local realities, national policy, and local politico-administrative implications. It also serves as a useful tool of both inputs and outputs in strengthening Myanmar’s transition by building a ‘stability’ from the community level.