Wed 13 Feb 2008
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Opposition forces held a Union Day banquet in Rangoon last night which was attended by representatives of pro-democracy organizations and ceasefire groups.
For the first time ever ceasefire delegates joined with pro-democracy opposition groups to pay tribute to Union Day; the three-hour banquet on U Wisara Road being held right under the nose of the authorities.
Meanwhile the regime held a State banquet for Union Day in Naypyitaw last night which was attended by Senior General Than Shwe and his wife Kyaing Kyaing along with invited representatives from states and divisions throughout the country, according to state-run newspapers.
With rumors circulating as to the health of Kyaing Kyaing, she was curiously absent from photographs of ethnic representatives meeting with Than Shwe at the gala. On previous occasions she has invariably been pictured with Than Shwe.
The opposition dinner in Rangoon drew a crowd of over fifty guests, including veteran politicians and members from the Committee Representing the People’s Parliament, National League for Democracy and ethnic organizations.
“The function was a pragmatic move for unity as it was attended by ethnic ceasefire groups”, an attendee of the banquet told Mizzima on condition of anonymity. Out of concerns for safety, he declined to reveal the names of the ceasefire ethnic delegations in attendance.
An ethnic youth who helped organize the banquet said, “It’s time, while the regime is publicly challenging all of us, for all dissident democratic forces to unite. We must build unity with mutual respect and mutual understanding through frequent exchanges and dealings. If we cannot unite this time, we will regret having missed our last chance to do so.”
“As a Shan proverb goes, like the ekokes [edible insects indigenous to the Shan region] we live in our own worlds for a lifetime, only to meet when we are in the same frying pan. We must learn from this”, he added.
A veteran politician said it was an unforgettable experience in his lifetime, as the banquet went totally unnoticed by the authorities.
The regime restricts ceasefire groups from meeting with each other and with pro-democracy political parties.