Chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), former vice president Jusuf Kalla traveled to Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar, on Monday, to join talks on finding peaceful solutions to the long-standing civil conflict in the country.
In the forum, Kalla shared some of the lessons learned from the Indonesian experience in striking a peace deal in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.
“We told the Myanmarese government that the most important issue in the negotiation with insurgent groups is that the groups need to leave the past behind and start talking about future plans. A peace negotiation is about building a future and not history,” Kalla said after the meeting.
Kalla said that in order for the peace talks to be successful, the Myanmarese government needed to address the problem of injustice among minority groups in the country.
He also said that conflict settlement and peacemaking needed political and economic stability as well as socio-economic development.
Kalla represents an Indonesian delegation invited by the Geneva-based Center for Humanitarian Dialogue to join the meeting. A team sent by the Philippine government to talk about its experience in dealing with insurgent groups in the southern part of the country also attended the meeting.
Joining Kalla in the meeting were former law and human rights minister Hamid Awaluddin, who led the government’s negotiating team in the Helsinki peace talks with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), and former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. (ret) Endriartono Sutarto.
Representing the Myanmarese government was U Aung Min, the chief negotiator in the peace talks with the insurgent groups in the country.
As part of the government-initiated reforms in Myanmar, the military junta in the country has taken a bold peace initiative to talk with insurgent groups in the country, against which it has been engaged in a devastating 60-year-long civil war.
President Thein Sein has made resolving the ethnic conflicts as a key component of the reform agenda.
Myanmar has 11 major armed ethnic groups spread across seven states, and many smaller groups and militias. Over the past year, ceasefires have been agreed or renewed with 10 out of the 11 groups. However, an agreement with the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) has not yet been reached.
Soe Thein said that Myanmar could learn from the experiences of other countries.
He also said that the government of Myanmar was in critical need of international support and assistance for the peace process.
When serving as Indonesian vice president, Kalla had been credited as the prime mover behind the Helsinki peace agreement signed in August 2005 — a deal that ended more than 30 years of violence in Aceh that killed more than 15,000 people.
When Kalla served as the coordinating minister for people's welfare under president Megawati Soekarnoputri, he took the lead role in the Malino I and Malino II peace agreements that formally ended the conflicts in Poso and Maluku in 2001 and 2002, respectively. (lfr)