Sittwe: An anonymous democratic group started a campaign for the 21st century Panglong Conference in Sittwe by distributing posters secretly around the state capital on 22 March, 2011, said a resident of Sittwe.
The posters were seen by town residents on many lampposts, government signboards, and office walls, where they were pasted up clandestinely, early in the morning on 22 March.
A woman from Sittwe said, “We saw some posters at the lamppost in front of my house. I thought the poster was stuck up on the post by the government at first, but later I understood they were stuck up by democratic activists when I saw police pulling down and seizing the posters.”
The posters contained writing in large letters with an image. At the top of the poster was writing that translates as “Peace to build Burma unitedly”. In the center of the poster was an image of eight hands with the names of eight ethnic nationalities – Karen, Kachin, Kayah, Chin, Mon, Burman, Rakhine, Shan – arranged one by one around the independence monument. Below the image was the writing, “21st Century Panglong Conference”.
A student from Sittwe said, “I saw the posters on our school signboard in the early morning but later police seized the posters. Many students were interested in the poster as it related to politics and democracy in Burma.”
There is no information regarding whether police have made any arrests in relation to the posters, as the 21st century Panglong Conference is opposed by the military government.
The 21st century Panglong Conferece was adopted by Burmese democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to build national reconciliation among Burma’s ethnic nationalities after she was released from house arrest.
Ethnic leaders in Burma believe Burma needs another conference like the first Panglong Conference, which was held in Panglong Town in what is now Shan State in 1947 before Burma’s independence. The conference was held to plan for Burma’s independence, and national hero General Aung San and Shan, Kachin, and Chin ethnic leaders signed an agreement to build Burma as a federal union with equal rights for all after they regained independence from the British.
“The poster campaign for the 21st century Panglong Conference started in our town, but there is no information on who is conducting it. However, the idea came from the NLD and the authorities suspect NLD members here,” a politician said.