Shan State rulers, Saopha together with Burman leader and hill people signed Panglong Agreement to form a federal country and get independence from the British. Since Burma got independence, equality, freedom and justice never come into practice. Worse, in 1962, General Ne Win staged a coup d’état. The Panglong Agreement was torn down by Burmese dictators.
Since then, the Shan State people faced all kind of forms of human rights abuses. In 1996-7 was the hellish years for the people of Shan State. Thousands of villages in southern Shan State were burned down, hundred thousands of people had to flee for their life, abandon their home and rice fields. In short, they were oppressed, persecuted and killed. Their property were looted, women were raped, children (if survived) witnessed their parents got killed.
At the time, only SHAN brought the plights and suffering of the people to be heard. As SHAN’s moto goes “Khor Khan Pak, Tem Phak Tang Toe, Hseng Ho Jai Khon Murng” (The people voices, the people hearts, must be heard). The SHAN reports the atrocities of the Burmese military actions against the people, so that media can play a role of accountability.
Nowadays, the political conflict is in transition or ongoing peace process. For the Shan State betterment, gaining freedom and justice, media can play crucial roles. Not only holding guns can enter negotiation table, but holding pen also can fight for freedom and equality.
Independent media, neutral, unbiased, firm with media ethics and reliable news is important for Shan State and Burma.
I strongly believe that media can play a role in society, provide information and inform the people about issues in neighboring countries, international community relates to human rights, politics, economy, and Shan State development.
Frankly speaking, media has the power can save people lives. Significantly, media can fight for human rights, democracy, federal and also peace process or national reconciliation. I believe in media can be part of changes so that I work with SHAN till nowadays.
Sai Pawn Li, Magazine editor
Note* Sai Pawn Li works with for over a decade (He has worked since 2005)