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Correction: Kyaw Ko Ko is president of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, not the Myanmar Students’ Union.
This week’s new talk show, DVB Debate, asks whether or not the people of Burma can and should forgive the military regime for its decades of repression – a question all the more sensitive at a time when the country is commemorating the 25-year anniversary of the 8-8-88 massacre.
Panelists at the debate are: Hla Swe, a former general and member of the USDP; Zin Mar Aung, founder of the Yangon School of Political Science and a former political prisoner; and Kyaw Ko Ko, president of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions. Special guests include Moe Thee Zun, the former president of the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front; and the parents of Win Maw Oo, a student whose life was lost during the 88 uprising.
Set at the venue of Pansodan Studio in Rangoon, several studio guests suggest national reconciliation will not be possible without justice and called for action against those who committed or ordered the atrocities.
Our panelists are put on the spot.
“It will never be possible for us to forgive and forget – for putting us through all that pain and suffering,” says Kyaw Ko Ko.
USDP member Hla Swe calls for a more measured approach. “It is inarguable the extent of the events that happened in the past and they should never be forgotten,” he says. “However, if we start digging up everything that happened and reliving the past, we will delay the process of national reconciliation. It’s time for us to be higher-minded citizens.”
According to Moe Thee Zun, the former jungle-based president of the ABSDF militia: “Trust is needed. Trust between the government and the people is most important. Only then will we be able to rebuild this country. I request that the military regime apologise to the public for the sake of national reconciliation.”
“We can only consider whether to forgive or not when those responsible have admitted their crimes,” concludes Zin Mar Aung.
What do you the DVB readers think? Join in the debate and watch the full programme in Burmese at dvbdebate.com
Next week, DVB Debate looks at the media law and asks: Is Burma ready for total press freedom?