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Bush Institute Young Leaders Active in Burma’s Landmark Peace Conference

September 2, 2016 by Christopher Walsh
“Bush Institute Young Leaders are pioneers for Burmese democracy.” This bold headline introduced the Bush Institute’s second Liberty and Leadership Forum class to the world.

Bush Institute Young Leaders Active in Burma’s Landmark Peace Conference

“Bush Institute Young Leaders are pioneers for Burmese democracy.” This bold headline introduced the Bush Institute’s second Liberty and Leadership Forum class to the world.  I proudly stand by that declaration as several of our Young Leaders are participating in Burma’s landmark Union Peace Conference, including Ye Htut, Khin Thar Shan, Salai David, Wai Wai Nu, Lway Aye Nang, Htoot May (a sitting Member of Parliament) and Ying Tzarm.

Last November, the pro-democracy National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, swept the country’s historic elections and returned the country to civilian rule for the first time in decades.  Even though the military still wields considerable power with a constitutionally-mandated 25 percent of parliamentary seats, the victory has inspired optimism about Burma’s future domestically and abroad.

Now, Aun San Suu Kyi is leading a new dialogue to promote peace negotiations between Burma’s military and warring ethnic groups and explore the virtues of a federal democratic system.

While there’s no certainty the conference will yield tangible results, it is viewed as being symbolically important for gathering the military, politicians, many of the armed ethnic groups, civil society and other representatives of Burmese society under one roof. Certainly the conference has notable flaws, the shameful exclusion of the Rohingya people for example, but it could represent another step toward a more free and democratic Burma. 

I’m optimistic in the knowledge that the Young Leaders we’ve come to admire over the past few years, pioneers of Burmese democracy, are involved in the process.

Photo credit: Nay Thar/Mizzima for Burma News International 


Author

Christopher Walsh
Christopher Walsh

Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.  In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight. 

Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.

A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies.  He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.

Full Bio