another transformation is quietly underway: a growing acceptance of the nation’s ethnic diversity, something that was notably absent during an earlier political transition. With the military’s violence unleashed once again, some are acknowledging that democracy cannot flourish without respecting the ethnic minorities who have endured decades of persecution.
More than a third of Myanmar’s population is composed of ethnic minorities, who inhabit a vast frontier where the country’s natural resources are concentrated. Their insurgencies against the Myanmar military, which has ruled the country for most of the past six decades, rank among the world’s most enduring civil conflicts.
For the first time in the country’s history, the National Unity Government, as the shadow authority is called, has openly endorsed federalism rather than a centralized authority. A constitution that enshrines federalism could help free ethnic minorities from the Bamar supremacy that has dominated politics in Myanmar since the country was founded in 1948.