Burma/Myanmar. Chances for a national reconciliation
Burma is inhabited by roughly 129 nationalities, being therefore a real melting pot of nationalities. Many of them tried in vain to secede from the Union of Burma, and as a consequence Burma remains the country with the longest ongoing armed conflict in the world. The ruling juntatreats all the minorities with suspicion and disdain. According to Martin Smith, the ruling military regime regards the ethnic nationalist groups with intense suspicion because of their lack of unity and their refusal to submit to Burmese authority in the past. Ethnic groups are economically marginalized while their social, cultural, and religious rights are suppressed. In Burma we can see an open discrimination of non-Burmese citizens in a country where every protest is considered a mutiny: the military junta believes that the minorities are inherently inferior (culturally/ socially) and would split from Burmese authority if given the chance. This was the picture of the country up to 2011. Since August of that year, however, Myanmar has witnessed a liberalization of the press, the release of political prisoners and the initiation of a political dialogue between the regime on the one hand and the opposition and ethnic groups on the other. Another challenge is the complex question of national reconciliation.
The plan envisions a new national conference (“Panlong II”), which is something many ethnic politicians have been calling for. This last stage of reforms, which could lead to a new framework for center– regional relations and true federalism, has the potential to solve the long running core-periphery conflict in Burma.