A ceremony marking the 62nd anniversary of the Pa O people’s revolution against feudalism was held on 11 December in Kawng Moong Mong, opposite Maehongson. The following is the interview with Khun Thurein of PaO National Liberation Organization (PNLO).Q: What time did the ceremony start and how many people attended it?
A: There weren't many people. It was held at 7a.m.
Q: Did other allied movements attend the ceremony?
A: No. We didn't invite them.
Q: Please explain about the revolution day. How did it come into being?
A: Before 1949, Shan princes ruled Shan State under feudalist system. People believed that the system was a bad system. The word "Pa Day Tha Razar" (Pali: Padesa Raja) means many kings ruled the corresponding regions. The reason we opposed feudalism was the different way they ruled the regions. People were not oppressed in some regions. However, in most regions, people were oppressed. They demanded excessive tax and virgin girls were being offered to them. Farmers were the ones who started the revolution. On the other hand, Shan State People's Freedom League (SPFL) was also against them. Then, in 1949, these two movements joined forces.
Q: Nowadays, there is no feudalist system, so why is this ceremony held?
A: We need not forget that this system was a bad system although many years have passed. Even though it has disappeared, people are suffering many times worse now. The way today's rulers use power and oppress the people is still the same.
Q: This year, we have a new government. We would like to know your opinion on the changes.
A: Superficially, there are changes. But there is no change when we look deeper. Because they are only pretending to be good. They hold negotiations for ceasefire agreements. All ethnic forces have demanded political solutions for the politic problems. Many movements concluded ceasefire agreements which were not followed by political dialogue. We had a ceasefire for 13 years until 2007.We couldn't do political discussions. That's why we have returned to the armed struggle.
Q: Now, even Shan State Army, which had never negotiated for a ceasefire has signed a ceasefire agreement. What about PNLO? If the government calls for negotiations again, will you accept?
A: We have not entered negotiations yet. We don't want to engage on meaningless things. We are struggling in order to achieve real peace. It is nonsense if they don't negotiate with all the ethnic movements. It will be fine if there is a nationwide ceasefire to solve the political problems in order to gain genuine peace. If they do that, we are going to stop fighting immediately. But what I see is just stop fighting with a movement in order to fight another one.
Q: It has been reported that the ethnic forces and the government want to discuss politics. So, why is the government insisting on holding peace talks separately?
A: The government has planned well but the ethnic movements don't understand their ways. We don't think much about our own unity. Thein Sein doesn't negotiate with all the ethnic forces collectively, so he is following the former government's divide and rule method. He isn't about to give us equal status but we, ethnic leaders, are not seeing things clearly. These are the main points.
Q: Now, Shan State Army South concluded a ceasefire agreement with the government but Shan State Army North is still negotiating. How do you explain that?
A: I think some of us are just extremely worried about what the world think. The government has called for peace talks, so if we don't respond to it, we think we might be accused as terrorists. That's why I think the RCSS/SSA accepted the offer.
Q: Finally, what message do you have for the people through Shan Herald Agency for News?
A: Don't trust them easily. This is the main point. If we do we may lose. All the politicians, revolutionaries and the mass should consider about this carefully. We must struggle on both with arms and without arms to achieve the rights of the people of Shan State.