Monday, May 25, 2009

Burmese Government Delegate Opposed Against Mon Speaker on the Use of Word ‘Burma’

By Rot Rot, New York

(Mon News) -In the evening session of May 22 (approximately 6 o’clock in the morning of Burma time), while the Conference of UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues on the discussion on human rights, a Burmese delegate opposed the word usage of Mon speaker, Nai Kasauh Mon, General Secretary of Mon Unity League (MUL).

In the session, when the Chairperson allowed MUL respective to speak on the human rights situation of Burma, soon he spoke out, ‘I am the representative of an indigenous people from Burma’, the Burmese delegate aggressively shout on the microphone and spoke against for the usage of ‘Burma’ and opposed the Mon speaker on human rights issues.

The MUL speaker stuck for a while and all participants looked with attention toward Burmese delegate for his strong comment that the country already changed name to “Myanmar’, and the international community and anyone in conference session must use only Myanmar. Then, the Chairperson appealed the Mon speaker to use ‘Myanmar’.

While the Mon speaker continuously spoke on the rights of indigenous people in Burma, and pointed out the current constitution has not guaranteed the rights of indigenous and ethnic people, sometimes, he mistakenly used the word ‘Burma’ and he was reminded by the chairperson from the stage.

Then the Mon speaker also appealed the Office of Commission on Human Rights, when the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma traveled to Burma, he should not only visiting prisons in cities, but also UN envoy needs to visit to the areas of indigenous peoples and assess the situation of human rights of indigenous people.

After Mon speaker’s presentation, many participants clapped with applauses for the encourage of the speech. Then, the Chairperson requested the Burmese delegate to response to the points in the presentation of Mon speaker.

He suddenly responded on the Nai Kasauh Mon’s accusation on the constitution. He said almost 95% of ethnic and indigenous people supported the constitution. He also added that many indigenous armed groups understood the government’s intention to build peace and almost of them agreed to participate in 2010 elections.

UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issue (UNPFII) is a yearly venue which mainly focuses on the rights of indigenous people around the world. In this 8th Session of UNPFII, over 500 representatives from different indigenous people from Eastern Europe to north America, and from Latin America to southeast Asia attend the Conference. UNPFII organizers also invited UN Agencies, government delegates, donor agencies, International NGOs to listen the voices of indigenous peoples.

Indigenous people raised various issues – land ownership, climate change and negative impacts, insufficient health care and education service, racial discrimination in works and in many institutions, and danger of nuclear tests, mining and environment destruction, violence against women, military occupation, etc. The indigenous people appealed the State authorities to respect the rights of indigenous people accordingly to Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

UNPFII opened its Conference and various site session on 18th May and the venue will take place for 2 weeks and will end on 29th May. This is also the first time for Mon speaker getting opportunity also the Mon people mission could attend in the past years.

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