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   (BOXUN Received S.H.A.N. & Burma's News Published by Burma's Chinese)

   The declaration of independence by the Shan elders and formation of the "Interim Government of Federated Shan States" on 17 April has forced the SDU to take up political position, so that our political allies and friends would have a clear view on where we stand.

   The SDU principle political position is that the Union of Burma is now defunct and no more in existence, due to the abolition of the 1947 Union Constitution and Panglong Agreement by the Burmese military in 1962, which are the only legal bonds between the Shan and Burman States. Thus, Shan State has no more contractual obligation to be part of the union and it is fighting to regain its sovereignty and self-determination back from the occupying Burmese forces.

   The approach to obtain this goal has been to struggle together with all the ethnic groups, including the Burman, within the now defunct Union of Burma through the reestablishment of a new federal system.

   The declaration of independence is a normal emotional outbreak of the people of Shan State, which have been oppressed due to many political reasons and unfavorable international political configuration. It is natural reaction by the people reeling under the gross human rights violations, which include mass killing of the innocent people, raping of its women, forced mass population transfer and forced labours and so on.

   This pentup anger, combined with frustration of wanting to be free, has been kept in check on the population by the political leadership of the Shan State, until it came out into the open with the declaration of the Shan independence by a group of Shan elders, who no doubt might have been mirroring the aspiration of the Shan people. But the problem here is twofold:

   One is that the Sao Hso Hkhan Hpa (Surkhanpha) led exiled government does not have the endorsement of the SNLD, the ceasefire armies and even the Restoration Council of Shan State, which is in open conflict with the SPDC regime. It is not possible to agree with the formation of such government without the key stakeholders and players of the Shan people and it is not a way to form thegovernment first and solicit for the people"s acceptance later.

   The other factor is that the virtue of declaring independence, when we are forming a united effort together with the other non-Burman ethnic nationality groups, the Burman opposition and sympathetic and friendly international states and actors to find a solution within the bounds of a genuine federal union, democracy and equality. The SDU believe that this is a more viable political objective than declaring independence and fighting it out alone against the entrenched SPDC regime.

   The SDU would continue to adhere to the principle of tripartite dialogue, restoration of democracy, equality and rights of self-determination to resolve the conflict, until it is decided by the international commu nity and the real stakeholders of the Shan people that this type of conflict resolution is no more feasible.

   Sai WansaiGeneral secretaryShan Democratic Union

   20 April 2005................................................................................................................

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