The Opening in Burma: A Union for All of Us

Issue Date October 2012
Volume 23
Issue 4
Page Numbers 132-134
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Read the full essay here.

Problems plague Burma’s “ethnic” periphery the way wildfires plague windswept grasslands in the dry season. A lasting democracy cannot be built on elections alone—the rights of the country’s minorities must also be protected.

About the Author

Hkun Htun Oo is a political leader from Burma’s Shan State and chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD). In 1990, he ran for Union Parliament as head of the SNLD, which won 23 seats; only the National League for Democracy (NLD) won more. After the military government annulled the results, he continued to work for democratic change, receiving in 2005 a 93-year jail term for “treason, defamation, and inciting dissatisfaction toward the government.” Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience. In March 2011, the United Nationalities Alliance, a group representing several nationalities in Burma, awarded him the Nationalities Hero prize for his “dedication and struggle for ethnic groups and national reconciliation.” On 13 January 2012, he was released from prison as part of a presidential amnesty. This essay was translated from the Burmese by Ma Oo.

View all work by Hkun Htun Oo