UNYPAD National Officer attends 2nd Burma Regional Students and Youth Exchange

BurmaThe United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD), a Moro non-government organization in Mindanao, Philippines, sent its National Deputy Secretary – General for Administration, Dats Magon, to present a topic on ‘Bangsamro Right to Self Determination and Peace Building in Mindanao’ to the 2nd Burma Regional Youths and Students Exchange Program organized by the Students and Youth Congress of Burma on January 19 – 21, 2013 held at the border of Thailand and Burma.

More than 50 youth leaders coming from different organizations in all states of Burma participated in the said historic event.

In his presentation, Dats Magon explained that majority of Bangsamoro civil society organizations are engaged in democratic and peaceful assertion by which all their activities are in support to the ongoing Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiations.

“We were urged by the situation to initiate activities popularizing negotiation as the win-win option because it is the most practical way of redefining our current relationship with the Philippine government,” he told his audience.

“UNYPAD, he asserted, “is very active in organizing Moro youth in the ground. We have been doing this because we wanted to raise their awareness on the real situation in our homeland.”

“We must prepare them for the inevitable future tasks that await them as future Bangsamoro leaders”, he explained.

“We always ensured to provide them with the correct tract of our struggle for self-determination,” he further explained.

Also joining Magon was Mr. Juanda Djamal, a veteran peace advocate currently serving as Secretary General of The New Aceh Consortium, who delivered a topic on Peace Talks: Process and Peace Building in Aceh.

In his introductory message, Jamal said: “I do not want to emphasize that we need tsunami to change the situation in Burma as what happened in Indonesia. No, but I am urging to take the momentum… to take the momentum in our side…to our gain… in our quest for peace and justice.”

“GAM who led our struggle encountered several challenges after signing the 2005 Helsinki Agreement with government of Indonesia,” he recalled.

“Due to its leadership’s weak handling of the situation by not providing strategic agenda for the people of Aceh, in 2006 the party was divided between youth and old. The situation became more chaotic when the party was divided into two factions,” he pointed out.

“As a result, their poor political capacity and weak experiences impede them to provide clear directions for our people”, he added.

He elaborated that the present CSOs in Aceh are strictly looking into consideration in addressing the following challenges in post-conflict situation namely: Transitional Justice, Human Resources Development, Political Communication between Aceh – Jakarta and Aceh districts, Improvement of the quality of life of the people, Natural Resources development and Managing social structures”,.

One of the most important highlights of the activity was the formulation of political platforms for future engagements and strengthening of collaborations among Burma youth organizations.

With a population of more than 60 million making it world’s 24th populous country, Burma was under military control after 1962 coup d’état headed by General ne Win. From then, culture of impunity enveloped the whole country.

Since militia government took power, there are at least 300,000 Burmese currently living as refuges in different countries of the world on which 145,000 of them are lavishing indifferent refugee camps in Thai soil.

The victory of Aung San Su Kyi in April 2012 bi-election brought hope for a gradual democratic transition of Burma but military harassment to Civil Society Organizations still exist.

Over the past years UNYPAD has been very active in sending its officers abroad to share with youths in conflict driven countries the active role it plays in the Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination. Last December 2012 Hamsa Landayan, North Cotabato provincial president was sent for a one-month trip to South Thailand to share organization’s peace building experiences with Malay speaking Pattani youths.