Friday, December 2, 2011

Ethnic leaders brief Clinton on conflicts

Friday, 02 December 2011 22:29 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrapped up her visit to Burma on Friday, she met leaders of ethnic political parties and social organizations to hear first-hand what’s it like to deal with the new Burmese government.

Sao Yun Paing of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) told Mizzima his party asked Clinton to seek the release of Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD) Chairman Khun Tun Oo, who is being held as a political prisoner.

Secretary Hillary Clinton speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon on Friday. Photo: Mizzima

“We told her about the losses to Shan State in terms of stability and peace. Our needs cannot be achieved by armed conflict. They must be solved by a political dialogue,” he said.

Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) Secretary Oo Hla Saw said his party told Clinton that Burma’s greatest need is a definitive resolution to the ethnic issues that prevent improvements in economic development, education and health.

“Ethnic areas are lagging far behind in education and health. We told her about the fighting in ethnic areas, our efforts to stop the civil war, and the difficulties our people have encountered,” said Oo Hla Saw.

Kachin religious leaders and social organizations briefed Clinton on the fighting in the state, the conditions of war refugees and the problems regarding education and health care. Sai Yaw of the Metta Foundation and Kachin Baptist Christian Association General-Secretary Dr. Sam Zun talked about current conditions in Kachin State.

Oo Hla Saw said Clinton told them that she understood their problems in dealing with the new government, and said that when she returned to the U.S., she would make further recommendations to the government on how to deal with ethnic issues.

The meeting with Clinton on Friday included RNDP Secretary Oo Hla Saw; CPP chairman Noe Thang Kup; Sao Yun Paing of the SNDP; Nai Khin Maung of the All Mon Region Democracy Party; Dr. Sai Montha of the Kayin People’s Party; and Sai Saw Aung of the SNLD.

Also attending were NGO representatives; an official from the Metta Foundation; a religious leader from the Kachin Baptist Christian Association; and an official from the Karen Development Network.

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