Naypyidaw: Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has called for new laws to protect Myanmar’s ethnic minority groups.
According to Wall Street Journal, in her first speech to Parliament, she highlighted one of the country’s most challenging issues as it opens up to the outside world. Suu Kyi called for an end to discrimination against ethnic minorities as part of the “emergence of a genuine democratic country”.
She urged the government to pass “necessary laws or amend laws to protect the rights of ethnic nationalities,” and said: “Protecting minority rights required more than just maintaining ethnic languages and cultures”.
“The high poverty rates in ethnic states clearly indicate that development in ethnic regions is not satisfactory and ethnic conflicts in these regions have not ceased,” she said.
The challenge for Suu Kyi, and for the government overall, is that the country’s ethnic divisions defy easy solutions, even as popular expectations regarding Suu Kyi’s power to bring about change run high.
Some supporters of Suu Kyi have called for her to revive talk of a so-called Panglong agreement that would grant ethnic groups more extensive power-sharing in Myanmar`s political system, or even the right to secede.
The name comes from a previous agreement engineered by her father, independence hero General Aung San, in the 1940s that sought to give more autonomy to ethnic groups.