Thursday, 23 January 2014

Western Balkan Transition Experience Shared in Myanmar

In November 2013, the Croatian peace activists Vesna Teršelič from the NGO Documenta - Center for Dealing With the Past visited Myanmar (the former Burma) on behalf of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She shared her impressions with us:

In November 2013 I spent ten days in Myanmar on invitation of Igor Blažević from Education Initiatives, as part of a Women’s Leadership for Peace Program, which is supported by the Government of the Republic Croatia. The purpose of my visit was to discuss what would be the most appropriate ways of exchange of experience regarding the transition process in Croatia and other post-Yugoslav countries with civil society organisations. Representatives of local women, youth, human rights and development initiatives as well as associations of former political prisoners were keen to continue a dialogue in order to search for suitable activities including study visits and programs aimed at women’s empowerment and direct support to survivors of gross human rights violations.

Democratic transition in Myanmar is challenging, as fights between the central government and non-Burman ethnic groups started immediately after the independence in 1948, and partly are still ongoing, following British colonial control and Japanese occupation during World War II. The violent conflict between the Burmese Army and ethnic armed rebel groups is the longest ongoing civil war in the world. Burma was ruled by successive military regimes from 1962 until November 2010, when it held its first elections in two decades and transitioned into a civilian-led government, headed by President Thein Sein. However, these elections were widely criticized for being neither free nor fair, and the 'civilians' who came to power were simply the same generals who had been ruling for decades, though no longer in uniform. Still ongoing fights in Myanmar in border areas are accompanied by ethnic violence.

For more information, please contact Vesna Teršelič,

Information provided by Vesna Teršelič, Documenta

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