Shared Concern Initiative´s Statement on Burma’s Unresolved Ethnic Conflicts

The Shared Concern Initiative is releasing the new statement, “Burma’s Ethnic Powder Keg,” which draws attention to the long-running ethnic conflicts in Burma in connection with the country’s current transition.

“Troubled relations between Burma’s government and its ethnic minorities constitute a serious obstacle in the country’s path to stability and prosperity. Indeed, Burma’s recent history has been plagued by ethnic violence and protracted conflicts with government forces, particularly in Karen, Shan, and Kachin states.

Many of Burma’s ethnic minorities – whose members comprise almost 40% of the population – have long been subjected to persecution and mistreatment. As a result, they often harbor anger and resentment toward the government, with some even taking up arms in resistance. There is a real danger that opponents of Burma’s transition could exploit these tensions, fueling ethnic conflict in order to derail reform efforts.”

The SCI calls for greater engagement of the international community and also asks for full respect for human and civil rights to all citizens of Burma.

“The international community must redouble its efforts to help Burma, with its almost sixty million people, to move toward lasting peace and true democracy. Better integration of ethnic minorities, with full respect for their human and civil rights, is essential to reducing the risk of a resurgence of ethnic violence – and to giving Burma’s transition a chance to succeed.”

The statement was signed by eight members of the Shared Concern Initiative: H.R.H. El Hassan bin Talal, André Glucksmann, Vartan Gregorian, Michael Novak, Yohei Sasakawa, Karel Schwarzenberg, Desmond Tutu and Richard von Weizsäcker.

The statement has been released to selected world media and its full text will be available on the Forum 2000 website from April 30, 2013. More information about the Initiative, which is one of the core projects of the Forum 2000 Foundation, can be found here.