Approximately 1500 ethnically diverse people led by civil society organizations in Mon State cooperatively staged a protest as a public movement for peace in the country, on Saturday, in Mon State’s capital Mawalmyine.
The goals of the protest were to spread the message of establishing lasting peace in the country and to solve political conflict through methodical negotiations.
“Fighting breaks out often in ethnic areas. When the fighting breaks out, local people become refugees. Peace is needed for the unity of ethnic groups and for them to live in harmony. We stage this protest as we want to achieve genuine peace,” said Min Aung Mon, a leader of the protesting group.Roughly 1500 protesters, of different ethnic groups including Mon, Karen, and Pa-O, marched in the Mawlamyine capital formerly known as Moulmein, while shouting out slogans and holding banners.
“Using guns is not the right way to create lasting peace. Conversely, this should be solved through political channels and in order to solve it, we are here urging a stop to the war,” said Daw Zun Pan, a leader of the protesting group.
The slogans that the protesters used included “Stop the civil war”, “Lessen the military expenses”, “Tatmadaw must announce nationwide ceasefire” and “No peace can be achieved as long as there is ongoing civil war.”
“The reason why we hold this protest is because of the current civil war. In addition, the country is on the list of the poorest countries in terms of development. Regarding the peace programs, there have been a lot of them implemented previously. However, those peace programs have never been as successful as the public and ethnic groups expect. This is because we, the ethnic groups and civil society organizations, were not completely included in the talks,” said Khun Kyaw Swar Min, a protester, and a Pa-O ethnic.
Currently, the civil war is ongoing in the areas of Kachin and Shan states, and due to the fighting; the number of refugees is increasing.
In addition to Mon State’s capital, locals in Myeik Town, Tarnintaryi Region, Yangon City and Bago Region, and Pyi Town also gathered and protested in a public movement for peace.