Amidst the downpour of announced monsoon rain, about 140 leaders from the political, religious, civil society, women union, youth and academic communities and even writers, activists, and elders of the city of Rakhine, 87 of whom were women flocked at the U Okthama Hall, Sittwe last 16 July, 2016. This was a Peace forum organized by the Centre for Development and Ethnic Studies (CDES) team led by its Executive Director, Dr. Lian H. Sakhong in collaboration with Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), one of the NCA signatories.
The forum began with the recollections of history and revelations of the long arduous search for peace and reconciliation among the ethnic states in the country through the discourses delivered by prominent and esteemed authorities in the Rakhine State. To mention are: U Wei Sein Aung, Union Upper House Member of the Arakan National Party, U Mg Ba Thein, Arakan History Researcher, Daw Saw Thein Tin, retired High School Teacher and U Sein Saw Hla, retired Head Master.
What roles do the civil society play in the peace process, and how will the inclusion of ethnic armed organizations both signatories and non-signatories be ensured in the 21st Century Panglong conference; these were two of the most prevailing questions asked by the participants.
Dr. Lian H. Sakhong of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee and the Chin National Front Vice Chairman, presented the overview of the on-going peace process in Myanmar while Salai Za Ceu Lian, the Senior Project Officer of Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, elaborated on the relationship between the federal issues and the peace process in Myanmar.
Khaing Myint Khaing (ALP) and Dr. Moses C. Tehlo (CDES) served as masters of the ceremonies, while other staff of CDES composed of Dr. Janelyn I. Agbayani, Salai Ngun Lian Sang@Asang and Grace Ngun Za Tial facilitated the said forum.
Rakhine Women leaders utterly expressed their want that this Peace Forum be conducted at least once a year and if possible be done separately for women. This in order to continually awaken their awareness and deepen their consciousness of the peace progress in their country, particularly concerning their state as an active signatory of the NCA. The distribution of books published by CDES, on federalism and democracy, concluded the forum.