Despite the years-long peace process and the October 2015 signing of the ‘Nationwide’ Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), Burma’s civil society organizations continue to be significantly underrepresented in peace negotiations and largely excluded from the processes. Youth are one group who have no formal platform for including their voices in the processes in order to share their concerns, experiences and insights that could strengthen the possibility of building genuine and sustainable peace. To promote youth development and youth participation in establishing a democratic Federal Union in Burma, Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO) has been working since 1998 to empower youth through capacity-building and leadership programs. PYO has also provided young people channels to get involved in the country’s reforms from behind the scenes through activities such as conducting research and raising public awareness on the issues of democracy, human rights and environmental conservation as well as organizing educational workshop and forums. In this exclusive interview with Burma Link, Khun Oo — the General Secretary of the PYO — discusses the work and the challenges faced by the organization, emphasizing the youth’s role in contributing to peace. Khun Oo urges the Burma Government and the international community to invest in Burma’s young people in their quest to find peace and to re-build the country.
‘When You Talk About Peace, You Have to Talk to Your Enemies, You Have to Talk with Them Even More Than Your Friends’: Khun Oo, General Secretary of the PYO — PART 1