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ICC Note:
Constitutional revisions are needed to reconcile Kachin Christians with Myanmar’s government.
2/24/2012 Myanmar (Reuters) – Developing Myanmar will be impossible without peace in restive areas of the country, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Friday in a region where fighting has raged since June between the army and ethnic Kachin rebels.
Suu Kyi, the 66-year-old Nobel Peace laureate, is seen as pivotal to Myanmar’s nascent transition to democracy after five decades of military rule, and some believe she is the only figure who can unify one of Asia’s most ethnically diverse countries and resolve the conflict in Kachin state.

In Kachin state, many see Suu Kyi as their last hope.

The Kachin rebels, many of whom are Christian, are the last of Myanmar’s many ethnic minority factions battling the army. Eight months of fighting have forced as many as 60,000 people into nearly 80 camps, like the one where Than Nu and her family were living, according to aid group estimates.
The new civilian government has reached ceasefires with other armed groups including Karen rebels based near the border with Thailand, and the Shan in the northeast.
But the Kachin are holding out for more than a ceasefire. They say they gained little in the way of autonomy from a 1994 ceasefire deal that collapsed in June. Several rounds of peace talks with the new government have been inconclusive.
“The government doesn’t want to talk politics, just ceasefire and development, but that is meaningless for the ethnic people,” said a prominent Kachin Christian leader in Myitkyina, who declined to be identified. “All the ethnic people want a federal system,” he said in his church office.

“Peace is the main thing our country needs,” said Sai Khon, a 23-year-old Kachin woman at one of the rallies.
But, for now, fighting goes on.
Thein Sein has called several times for the army to stop attacking the rebels but in an apparent sign of limits to his power, the clashes continue.
Ultimately, reconciliation with minorities could hinge on change to the constitution, drawn up under army supervision, which is not clear on any autonomy under a federal system.
“The fighting could go on a long time,” said the Kachin Christian leader. “There is a little bit of hope in Suu Kyi. If she takes a leadership role we will see a change. The Myanmar issue is not democracy. The Myanmar issue is ethnic affairs.”

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