In June, I was lucky enough to stay in Myanmar for a month. At that time, Myanmar had spent around 100 days with the first civilian government in more than 50 years. As an international relations student, I would like to learn about the transition to democracy and its impact on national security in a divided society, and try to publish an opinion editorial about Myanmar’s peace process between the Burmese government and the ethnic minorities.
My preparation for the field research was not easy. I arranged around many interviews with politicians, scholars, activists, NGO officials, lawyers, members of rebel forces, and religious leaders. However, I had to constantly reschedule most of the interviews after I arrived in Yangon. There were so many unexpected happenings right before the interviews. For example, the parliamentary section was closed all of sudden and I had to cancel my trip to Nay Pyi Daw, the unpopulated capital city where there are only the governmental buildings. I found that monthly planning would hardly be possible in Myanmar. Fortunately I was still able to meet important people and they shared their thoughtful insight about peace process.
Through interviews, I learnt a lot about the history of conflict between Burmese and the ethnic minorities, government’s effort for peace process, and general public perception about the civilian government. I met a number of very important government officials including the Minister of Social Affair, and members of the Central Executive Committee of the NLD. I was so privileged to talk with them about nationwide peace process.
Interview with the chairperson of the NLD, former Chief of Staff of Myanmar Army
Plus, I could learn various perspectives from scholars, lawyers, and NGO officials about conflict resolution in Myanmar. I was fascinated by their knowledge and passionate fieldwork. I really hope that the government takes the valuable opinion that they offer and reflect in decision-making. I was also able to meet people from ethnic minorities such as a member of rebel forces, activists and religious leaders. It was a great opportunity to understand why there has been much antagonism between Burmese and the minorities.
Interview with the Executive Director of Metta Foundation
Interview with the Executive Director of the Centre for Strategy and International Studies
Interview with the religious leaders (Christian) of Kachin State
I had a chance to visit a refugee camp near Yangon. I met young students aged between 10 and 14 in the camp and had a chat about peace in the country. They clearly remember the tragedy happened to their family. However, I was overwhelmed by their thoughts about peace process. They are willing to forgive people who have destroyed their family and communities, and eager to have a harmonized country.
Refugee (IDPs) Camp Visit
My article will be published through J Magazine on 17 September in South Korea. I am still looking for an English media that can publish my article.