03 November, 2007

Efforts made by the National League for Democracy for dialogue and negotiations

(Unofficial translation)

National League for Democracy
97/B,West Shwegonedine Road,
Bahan Township, Rangoon

Efforts made by the National League for Democracy for dialogue and negotiations


1. The National League for Democracy (NLD) was formed on the 27 September 1988. From the start, one of the policies adopted was that in the task of catching up with the rest of the world politically, economically, and socially, we would work in accordance with the united wishes of all the citizens of the Union. Also, it was openly declared that we would discard the over forty years practice of settling disputes between the ethnic nationalities by resort to arms but would settle the issues in a political way. It was also our strong conviction that the only way to find solutions to internal problems facing the country was by dialogue and negotiation. To achieve that goal we have tried to meet with the State Law and Order Restoration Council many times. We set out below the many efforts made by us since 1988 to negotiate with them.

Initial period

2. In her travels throughout the country since October 1988, the first message that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the General Secretary of the NLD gave was that the only and genuine democratic way to finding solutions was by dialogue and negotiation.

3. In response to the above the authorities said that since there were over 200 parties, it would not be fair to the other parties to talk to one party alone.

4. In the months of May to July 1989, approximately over one hundred parties were permitted to register and the NLD held discussion with many of them on several occasions. An alliance was formed with the agreement that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi be the spokesperson for this alliance should an opportunity arise for talks with SLORC. The chairman of SLORC was General Saw Maung and in his speech to the nation on the 5 July 1989 said that such talks could not be held and statements were made to the effect that he felt he would be trapped if he had to hold talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who would be representing all the different parties.

5. At the beginning of the month of April of 1989, U Tin Oo, (Chairman of the NLD) and U Aung Shwe, (NLD Central Executive Committee member) went to pay their respects to the reverend Sanghas of the Sangha-maha-nayaka who were residing at Kabaye. U Tin Oo respectfully petitioned them thus:- "The SLORC government had not complied with the admonition given by Ba-dan-ta-wunna-thiri on T.V during the 1988 crisis that the authorities and the political parties meet and hold talks so would the reverend Sanghas please remind and urge them to do so".

6. On 3.12.88, U Aung Shwe, (member of NLD) approached Captain Kyaw Nyein who was then in the Military Intelligence (MIS) assisting unit, to obtain contact with those in authority for discussions. Though the captain agreed to make the necessary arrangements, nothing came of it.

7. On 15 July 1989, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, (General Secretary of the NLD) and other members of the NLD met with members of the ethnic nationalities at their head office in Bo Aung Gyaw Road. Their discussions were towards giving priority to finding solutions for the future that would be good and acceptable to all. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi emphasized that only by such discussion and mutual exchange of ideas, solutions can be arrived at.
Pre-election period

8. NLD Chairman U Tin Oo and General Secretary Daw Aung San Suu Kyi were placed under house arrest by the authorities from 20 July 1989. On 17th February 1990, Central Executive Committee member U Aung Shwe and Secretary U Chit Khine, met General Than Shwe and Secretary (1) Lt General Khin Nyunt. Some matters were discussed at that meeting but Lt General Khin Nyunt made it specifically clear that it was not meant to be a "dialogue". Furthermore, on 19 February 1990, General Than Shwe, Lt.General Khin Nyunt and Lt. General Myo Nyunt met with U Kyi Maung (Central Executive Committee member) and informed him of the program and work that they were engaged in. When U Kyi Maung asked that there should be meetings and discussions the reply given by Lt General Khin Nyunt was that what had been said by them could be interpreted as "dialogue". The request for more such occasions on a regular basis was made. Shortly after that, when U Chit Khine met with Secretary (1) he was informed that Major Win Naing from an MIS assisting unit had been given the duty of intermediary. U Chit Khaing met with Major Win Naing on three occasions regarding several matters after which he was instructed to make all further submissions in writing. As directed, written communications were made after that but they were all ignored.
Past election period.

9. In June 1990 after the general elections, a request in writing was made to SLORC for a meeting and discussions. On 11 July, 1990, SLORC Secretary (1) held a press conference where he stated "arrangements were being put in place for them to meet all the successful candidates in the elections who were leaders and People's Parliament representatives and for this purpose letter dated 11/7/1990 had been sent to the respective political parties. This has been written and sent to all. We intend to hold discussions with all the political parties and individuals that have been successful in the elections. It is not just to one political party this letter has been sent. " But SLORC has failed to act according to their words. It is not just us who know. The entire world is aware of this.

10. On 28 and 29 July 1990, a meeting of People's Parliament representatives which was organized by the NLD, issued the Gandhi Declaration in which it was also stated that
(a) We are fully aware of the current difficulties in the transition from a one party to a multi-party system. We are wholly convinced that solutions can be found only by mutual respect, frank and honest discussions of the issues by the National League for Democracy and the State Law and Order Restoration Council in a spirit of national reconciliation while adhering to democratic principles.
(b) Our belief for maintaining and declaring that internal current disputes in our country must be amicably settled by face to face discussions is because we have adopted and laid great stress on this pattern of meeting together and discussing.

11. The NLD's statement dated 17 September 1990, clarifying the decisions taken at the Central Committee's meeting (5/90) :- clearly acknowledges that "In accordance with the stated policy of the National League for Democracy that we will work for the good of all the people and as stated in the Gandhi Declaration it is our belief that only by face to face meetings and negotiations in a spirit of general harmony can solutions be found to the political problems that we are currently facing in this country. " This is a factor, which is evidence of our efforts to bring about negotiation.

12. On the 29 August, 1990, the NLD and the United Nationalities League for Democracy(UNLD) issued a statement on the current situation of the state and one of the resolutions mentioned was "that authorized representatives of the NLD and representatives of SLORC are urged to meet immediately and negotiate". However, there was no response to this.
National Convention period

13. At the coordination meeting for the convening of the National Convention, U Aung Shwe, (Chairman of NLD) made the following statement on June 23 and 30, and July 10, 1992. "If, with all honesty and clean, open and virtuous minds we hold deliberations without any discrimination whatsoever against ethnic groups, religious groups, rich or poor, people of different occupations, then the greatest benefit can be achieved for all the people in the country and the valuable goal we hope to reach - a democratic and prosperous system - will truly and surely be born and flourish".

14. At the National Convention, which commenced on 9 January 1993, we repeatedly made this point. The following passage appears on page 27 of NLD's suggestions presented on 7-2-94 at the discussions on the subject of The State, The Constitution and its formulation, and The President :- "In any matters whatsoever, we can only overcome problems if we meet and have discussions, free of prejudices and in a charitable spirit placing the good of the country as the sole objective. Problems that occur in a family are solved through discussion and negotiation. We find a common denominator to solve mathematical problems in fractions. Discussions have good results. Therefore, to write a sound and lasting constitution and establish a new state, the time is ripe for the government and those of us who are engaged in this work to meet face to face and hold discussions. In every situation where there is compromise (give and take) problems are solved. It is a law of human nature".

15. Also, on the 24 March 1993, at a meeting of the National Convention Committee and the group of Presidium, U Thar Zan Hla (authorized leader of the NLD team) suggested that on issues where there was dissent, face to face discussion should be held between the National Convention Committee and the Presidium group.
Discussions that took place during Daw Aung San Suu's house arrest period.

16. On 20 September 1994, Daw Aung Suu Kyi (General Secretary of NLD) met with and held discussions with SLORC Chairman , Senior General Than Shwe and Secretary (1) Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt. Another meeting and discussion took place on 28 October 1994 with Secretary (1), Brigadier Than Oo (Judge Advocate General) and Brigadier Tin Aye (Inspector General). There were no further meetings.

17. In connection with this matter, Colonel Kyaw Win (Deputy Director of MIS) at a press conference on 11 February 1995 stated that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had not made further requests to meet with the leaders of SLORC. However, when he was questioned about the request by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for frequent discussions with the leaders at the time she was informed of her release from house arrest on 10-7-95, his response was that there could have been a mistake in the translation from Burmese to English of what he had said. He undertook to make further clarification at later press conferences but Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that it would not be necessary because she would clarify the matter herself.

Past house arrest period.

18. The day after her release from house arrest on 10 July 1995,Daw Aung San Suu Kyi issued a Press Release wherein it was stated " Many unbelievable changes have come about in the world during my period of detention. The good thing was that dialogue and negotiation brought about these changes. Therefore, there can be no doubt that the key to solving long standing disputes and hurts is by discussions and negotiation. Thanks be to the angels in heaven and to humans on earth".

19. When Colonel Kyaw Win informed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of her release from house arrest he made remarks to the effect that in his opinion the present circumstances were the result of misunderstanding because of little contact. Frequent meetings and exchange of ideas would be a step in the right direction.

20. On the evening of the 27 July 1995, Col Kyaw Win and Lt. Col Than Htun (Grade One Officer of MIS) went to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and made statements that could be interpreted to mean that there would be consultations, in response to which she said that regular meetings and talks was highly desirable. After that, only Lt.Col Than Htun met her with the excuse that Col. Kyaw Win was too busy with other tasks. In the next meetings, only Lt.Col Than Htun came.

21. Every time Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met and discussed matters with Lt Col Than Htun, she emphasized the necessity to avoid misunderstanding and for this purpose there should be meetings and negotiations to bring about beneficial results for the country. An early meeting was necessary to help solve the problems that the people were facing and that her party was always desirous to find solutions - this was the repeated message she was giving. He then told her that there was a possibility of talks round about November to which Daw Aung San Suu Kyi replied that this was too much of a delay. She desired a meeting before the NLD convention.

22. On 8 September 1995, Ms. Madeleine Albright the permanent representative of the United States of America visited Burma and met with Secretary (1) who informed her that it would be sometime before talks could be held but that it would not be before November and that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had accepted this fixture. When Ms Albright met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and informed her of what she had been told by Secretary (1), Daw Aung San Suu Kyi clarified the position and denied that she had agreed to such an arrangement.

23. A few days later, when Lt. Col Than Tun met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, this matter was brought up and he confirmed that she had not agreed to the fixture of a meeting in November.

24. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi then contacted Lt. Col Than Htun and gave him the message which was a resolution of the Central Executive Committee of the NLD requesting a meeting with SLORC on a date prior to 10 October 1995 and if the response was in the positive, a reply be sent to them before 1 October 1995. No reply of any sort was received. When inquiries were made one of the MI team stationed in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's compound informed her that Col Kyaw Win's reply was that since Lt Col Than Htun had been assigned to duties outside the country she should await his return and that the date for holding the NLD convention had been postponed to 28 November.

25. On his return, Lt Col Than Htun contacted Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and contrary to the information that he had given before, all he said was that prior notice of the date of the November meeting could not be given. He saw her again in November and she informed him that she wanted the meeting to be fixed for a date prior to 10 November, 1995 and requested a reply on or before the 1st November, 1995. She tried to contact him on the 1st of November but his excuse was that he was busy with preparations for the Kathein (Buddhist religious) celebrations after which there was no contact.

Efforts of other individuals

26. A letter dated 24 November 1995, addressed to both the Chairman of SLORC and the NLD urging them to meet and discuss the current political situation was written by twenty three experienced politicians and staunch democracy supporters including Bohmu Aung, Thakin Chit Maung,, Thakin Thein Pe. They were called in on 26-11-95 to meet with U Tin Hlaing, (Deputy Home Minister), U Thein Sein (Deputy Information Minister), Col Soe Win (Director General of Police), Col Kyaw Win (MIS) and were accused of echoing the voice and message that Ms. Albright (USA representative) had given. Those individuals reply to that was that they acted in the interest of the country and that they were taking no orders from anyone.

27. The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy expressed similar sentiments in a letter dated 26 November 1995 addressed to the Chairman of SLORC and to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. In a similar fashion they were called up by the Home Ministry on the 27th and told not to be acting as followers of the United States of America and the NLD.

Efforts by the leaders

28. The NLD prepared in detail the experiences, situations and resolutions taken in the past three years for U Kyi Maung, U Tin Oo, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the three who had returned to the party. Based on the above facts a paper was prepared and confirmed by the five leaders on the 2nd November. This was then summarized and presented at the NLD Convention as a statement of NLD's position which was signed and approved by the Central Executive Committee. The conclusion of that paper stated that solution for
(a) National reconciliation,(b)Creation of genuine multi-party democratic system,
(d) Production of a constitution acceptable to most of the citizens can only be arrived at through meeting and negotiation.

29. On 1 December 1995, at No 54/56 University Avenue, the NLD Convention was held attended by the Central Executive Members and NLD representatives. A paper entitled "The way of negotiation with dialogue" was confirmed and a copy of the same was posted to the Chairman of SLORC on 1/12/95 .

30. Similarly a letter was posted to the chairman of SLORC on 26/2/96. Sr Gen Than Shwe made a speech on 27 March 1995 and sated that " If the peace and tranquility of the nation is not effected, and if it will not cause deterioration to the prosperity of the country the Military has no reason to seek revenge. The Military's program for reconciliation of the nation includes all aboveground political parties. We have always stated that we are always striving to work with the political parties. This being our basic attitude I have recommended that we make urgent arrangements to meet face to face with the NLD which is a legally constituted political party".

31. From the above, it is very obvious that since its inception on the 27 September 1988, the NLD has always tried to solve political, economic and social problems through negotiations and discussions. SLORC appears to have started to adopt that road again and again, but they have steadfastly failed to follow through.

32. Simultaneously, at government sponsored public meetings and in newspaper articles, SLORC leaders have accused and slandered the NLD and treated it as an enemy of the state threatening to completely annihilate it.

33. We specially make this point that at the 1990 May general elections, the NLD gained 82 % of the votes which is a resounding demonstration of the peoples will. To threaten and treat the NLD that has the support of the people amounts to ignoring the will of the people and to do so for this length of time is an impossible situation.

34. Shortly after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, she often spoke to the members of the party and the people that it was up to each individual to find ways and means to obtain democracy that was cherished so much by them. They should not wait for this or that to happen. They should be creative and follow appropriate political strategies. No matter what difficulties or obstacles they faced, the NLD would with a calm spirit and steady persistence, work towards achieving genuine democracy for Burma. Therefore the NLD would continue to make overtures for meetings and negotiations for finding solutions to problems. The door would always be open for that purpose.

Central Executive Committee
13, May 1996

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