AAPP (2010) The Role of Political Prisoners in the National Reconciliation Process


For decades, the people of Burma have been striving for peace, democracy and the full realization of their human rights. Recognizing this goal, political parties like the National League for Democracy (NLD) and ethnic nationality groups have attempted to engage in a process of national reconciliation, but the ruling military regime (known as the State Peace and Development Council, SPDC) has resisted this at every turn. At its heart, ‘national reconciliation’ is resolution of the conflicts brought about by the struggle for democracy, human rights, equality, and self-determination that have been ongoing since independence. Burma’s 2,100 plus political prisoners represent that struggle, yet the SPDC continues to deny their existence.
This report sets out the vitally important role of Burma’s political prisoners in a process of national reconciliation, leading to democratic transition. A genuine, inclusive process of national reconciliation is urgently needed to resolve the current conflicts and make progress towards peace and democracy.
A crucial first step in a national reconciliation process is official recognition of ALL Burma’s 2,100 plus political prisoners, accompanied by their unconditional release. This is an essential part of trust-building between the military rulers, democratic forces, and wider society. In order for progress towards genuine national reconciliation and democratic transition to be sustainable, ordinary people across Burma must believe in the process. As long as activists remain in prison or continue to be arrested for voicing their political dissent, the people of Burma will have no trust in any political process proposed by the SPDC.

In practice, a national reconciliation process must involve an inclusive tripartite dialogue between the ruling military regime, the National League for Democracy and representatives of all ethnic nationality groups to discuss the unification of Burma into a
peaceful federation that fully respects the rights of all ethnic nationality groups. High-level dialogue between the ruling military generals and imprisoned political leaders like Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Shan Nationalities League for Democracy leader U Khun
Htun Oo and other ethnic nationality representatives is very important. Imprisoned national figures like 1988 student leader Min Ko Naing, comedian Zarganar and monk leader U Gambira, who are widely admired across Burma, can help unite ordinary people
behind the process of dialogue if given the opportunity to do so.


For media interviews, please contact:
Tate Naing, Secretary: +66 (0) 81-287-8751
Bo Kyi, Joint-Secretary: +66 (0) 81-9628-713
Aung Din, Former Political Prisoner, USA Representative,
++(301) 602 0077