KWO Responds to UN Statement

cropped-18361502_1726136910744974_2085230667_n.png Karen Women’s Organization

KWO always called on the sanction targeted the Burma Army including their business. Unless they feel hurt they will never reform and change their mentality. They will continue to act with impunity. KWO welcome and support the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar exposes military business ties, calls for targeted sanctions and arms embargoes and call on the international community to impose sanctions.

Last month the US government has imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s top military commander Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and the three of his highest-ranking general and their immediate family members on a ban from entering the US. KWO welcome the US government actions and call on more ban to generals and not just visiting ban but also economic sanctions on their business.

We also call on other government to take actions and follow the UN Fact-finding recommendations.

 Please see the full statement from the UN Human Rights Council below:

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Media Statement

UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar exposes military business ties, calls for targeted sanctions and arms embargoes

GENEVA (5 August 2019) – The U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar urged the international community on Monday to sever ties with Myanmar’s military and the vast web of companies it controls and relies on. The Mission said the revenues the military earns from domestic and foreign business deals substantially enhances its ability to carry out gross violations of human rights with impunity.

The report, for the first time, establishes in detail the degree to which Myanmar’s military has used its own businesses, foreign companies and arms deals to support brutal operations against ethnic groups that constitute serious crimes under international law, bypassing civilian oversight and evading accountability.

The Mission said the U.N. Security Council and Member States should immediately impose targeted sanctions against companies run by the military, known as the Tatmadaw. It encouraged consumers, investors and firms at home and abroad to engage with businesses unaffiliated with the military instead.

The Mission also called for the imposition of an arms embargo, citing at least 14 foreign firms from seven nations that have supplied fighter jets, armored combat vehicles, warships, missiles and missile launchers to Myanmar since 2016. During this period the military carried out extensive and systematic human rights violations against civilians in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine States, including the forced deportation of more than 700,000 ethnic Rohingya to Bangladesh.

“The implementation of the recommendations in this report will erode the economic base of the military, undercut its obstruction of the reform process, impair its ability to carry out military operations without oversight and thus reduce violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and serve as a form of accountability in the short-term,” said Mission Chair Marzuki Darusman.

The Mission’s report exposes two of Myanmar’s most opaque enterprises, Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC), both of which are owned and influenced by senior military leaders. Among them are Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and Deputy Commander-in-Chief Vice Senior General Soe Win, both of whom the Mission previously said should be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

MEHL and MEC own at least 120 businesses involved in everything from construction to pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, insurance, tourism and banking. Both companies, along with at least 26 of their subsidiaries, hold licences for jade and ruby mining in Kachin and Shan states. International human rights and humanitarian law violations, including forced labour and sexual violence, have been perpetrated by the Tatmadaw in northern Myanmar in connection with their business activities.

“Given the extent of Tatmadaw involvement in jade and ruby mining in northern Myanmar, businesses and consumers should conduct heightened due diligence to ensure that they are not purchasing, selling, trading or otherwise using gems produced or sold by enterprises owned or influenced by the Tatmadaw,” said Mission Expert Radhika Coomaraswamy.

The investigative report follows recommendations the Mission’s Experts made last year after documenting how Myanmar’s armed forces brutally violated the human rights of ethnic groups nationwide. The 2018 report focused heavily on “clearance operations” against the Rohingya in Rakhine State that began on 25 August 2017, when security forces killed thousands of Rohingya civilians, raped and sexually abused women and girls, and burned their villages to the ground.

The 111-page report, released Monday in Geneva, contains five annexes that list military businesses and foreign and domestic businesses that contribute to or benefit from the Tatmadaw and its operations.

While it is clear that Myanmar authorities must be held accountable for the human rights violations they perpetrated, the report emphasizes that concrete action must also be taken to address corporate responsibility to respect human rights in Myanmar.

The report details how 45 companies and organizations in Myanmar donated over 10 million dollars to the military in the weeks following the beginning of the 2017 clearance operations in Rakhine State. So-called “crony companies” with close links to the Tatmadaw later financed development projects in Rakhine State that furthered the military’s “objective of re-engineering the region in a way that erases evidence of Rohingya belonging to Myanmar.”

“Officials of these companies should be investigated with a view to criminal prosecution for making substantial and direct contributions to the commission of crimes under international law, including crimes against humanity,” Mission Expert Chris Sidoti said.

The report named two companies, KBZ Group and Max Myanmar, which helped finance the construction of a barrier fence along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border “knowing that it would contribute to the suffering and anguish associated with preventing the displaced Rohingya population from returning to their homes and land.”

The report found that at least 15 foreign firms have joint ventures with the Tatmadaw, while 44 others have some form of commercial ties with Tatmadaw businesses. These foreign companies risk contributing to, or being linked to, violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. At a minimum, they are contributing to supporting the military’s financial capacity. All companies doing business in or buying goods from Myanmar should conduct heightened due diligence to ensure they are not benefiting the Tatmadaw.

“The Mission’s findings from this investigation provide the international community with a more complete understanding of Myanmar’s human rights crisis; one that should compel the international community and individual States to take a coordinated multilateral approach to accountability, justice and ending the human rights crisis in Myanmar,” said Mission Expert Radhika Coomaraswamy.

“The revenue that these military businesses generate strengthens the Tatmadaw’s autonomy from elected civilian oversight and provides financial support for the Tatmadaw’s operations with their wide array of international human rights and humanitarian law violations,” said Mission Expert Christopher Sidoti.

Mission Chair Marzuki Darusman said: ”Removing the Tatmadaw from Myanmar’s economy entails two parallel approaches. In addition to isolating the Tatmadaw financially, we have to promote economic ties with non-Tatmadaw companies and businesses in Myanmar. This will foster the continued liberalization and growth of Myanmar’s economy, including its natural resource sector, but in a manner that contributes to accountability, equity and transparency for its population.”

The Fact-Finding Mission will present its final report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2019.

 

The full report on the economic interests of the Myanmar military, its annexes, supporting materials and summary translations in Myanmar language, Jingpho (forthcoming) and Rohingya can be accessed at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/MyanmarFFM/Pages/EconomicInterestsMyanmarMilitary.aspx

ENDS

The Human Rights Council on 24 March 2017 decided (through Resolution A/HRC/RES/34/22) to dispatch urgently an independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State, including but not limited to arbitrary detention, torture and inhuman treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, forced displacement and unlawful destruction of property, with a view to ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims.

The Experts: 

Marzuki Darusman, lawyer and human rights campaigner and former Attorney-General of Indonesia, is chair of the fact-finding mission. The other two members of the fact-finding mission are Radhika Coomaraswamy, a lawyer and former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict; and Christopher Sidoti, an international human rights lawyer and former Australian Human Rights Commissioner.

 

Website of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar:

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/MyanmarFFM/Pages/Index.aspx

 

For more information and media requests, please contact: Todd Pitman in Jakarta/Bangkok (Mobile: +66 63 216 9080 /todd.pitman@un.org), or Rolando Gómez in Geneva (Tel: +41 22 917 4411 or +41 79 477 4411 / rgomez@ohchr.org).

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KWO Recognizes Mae Tao Clinic’s 30th Anniversary

June 22, 2019, Karen Women’s Organization recognized Mae Tao Clinic for their 30 years of service to stateless people and those most vulnerable in our community with this certificate. Congratulations on your 30th anniversary, Mae Tao Clinic! We were honored to celebrate with you today!

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Karen Women’s Organization Receives International Women of Courage Award

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Karen Women’s Organization

International Women of Courage Award

March 6, 2019

Naw K’nyaw Paw and the Karen Women’s Organization (KWO) are honored this year to accept the “International Women of Courage Award” from the US State Department.  Naw K’nyaw Paw is accepting the award in Washington DC on behalf of the KWO. We were given this award for our “position for consistently condemning the Burma army to end military violence against civilians, for speaking out about the military violence against the Rohingya, and speaking out against SGBV in conflict”. KWO gives consistent support for all ethnic women. We work with community women on a wide variety of issues and support including childcare, leadership development, advocacy, health care and education.  KWO works to support women throughout their lives.

The Burmese military violence continues today, increasing in some areas on northern Burma, in the west and beginning again in the south east.  Women and children continue to be forced to run and hide from Burmese Army attacks as we write.

In 2004, KWO released a report “Shattering Silences”, highlighting the Burmese Army’s sexual abuse to Karen women.  Later KWO released “State of Terror” and later still “Walking Amongst Sharp Knives” all documenting abuse of Karen Women by the Burmese Army.  Then last year the world watched in horror as the Burmese Army unleashed unspeakable crimes, this time against Rohingya women.  Thousands of rapes have been well documented across one ethnic population after another and still these men run the Government and control the lives of our people.  It is time for the world to take action and bring these men to justice.

All indigenous ethnic women are either vulnerable to attack or are currently being attacked by the Burmese Army.  It will not end until the world takes action as a united community against these extreme human rights violations and hold those Generals in charge fully accountable. The peace process has stalled, the removal of sanctions has not brought us greater respect for human rights, it is still unsafe to return, or to speak the truth in our country.  We need targeted sanctions and a body outside Burma to hold the Generals accountable.

While we work for peace we hope the world will not forget the refugees the world over.  For us rations and services have been deeply cut.  Refugees and Internally Displace People in Burma need food, healthcare and education to live.  Please remember those in need as we accept the honors we also hope for resources and assistance for our community.

KWO is accepting this International Women of Courage Award along with 10 amazing women from across the globe who are also being honored.

We have many courageous women in Burma but when we see this group on honorees, we realize just how much we can accomplish when we are not afraid and we work together.  KWO’s fellow recipients fight for and serve the neediest across the globe.  Olivera Lakic writes the truth in Montenegro despite threats and attacks. Moumina Houssein Darar brings the rule of law to Djibouti. Magda Gobran Gorgy educates the poorest in Egypt, Colonel al-Twal helps people like me in her own country of Jordan, Marini de Livera brings the rule of law to women and children in Sri Lanka, Anna Aloys Henga defends human rights in Tanzania, Flor de Maria Vega Zapata works to protect the environment in Peru, Razia Sultana brings her legal knowledge to documenting the violence done against the Rohingya, Sister Orla Treacy educates and supports girls in Sudan and Marini help protect women and children in Sri Lanka.  This group touches every part of our lives, all over the world.  KWO is humbled by their work and honored to stand beside them.

Contact: kwocentral@gmail.com

The Nightmare Returns: Karen Hopes for Peace and Stability Dashed by Burma Army’s Actions

On March 4th, the Burma Army began the largest and most coordinated deployment of troops into Karen State’s Mutraw (Hpapun) district since 2008, breaching the terms of the NCA and provoking multiple clashes with the Karen National Liberation Army’s (KNLA) 5th Brigade. Burma Army soldiers have indiscriminately targeted civilians while more than 2,400 villagers have been forced to flee their land and homes. The majority of those displaced by the Burma Army’s current operations had only recently returned to rebuild their villages, farms, and livelihoods following decades attacks by the Burma Army and displacement in the area.

The KNU and Burma Army are both signatories to the 2015 NCA, which prohibits the expansion of military infrastructure and troop reinforcements in ceasefire areas. However, since March 4th, at least eight Burma Army battalions have entered Luthaw, without the required prior agreement  from the KNLA, and begun constructing a military operations road to connect their military bases. If the road is built, Indigenous Karen villagers may be permanently displaced from their homes and ancestral village territories.

KPSN Media Release The Nightmare Returns

The Nightmare Returns – English version

Refugee Activists Discuss Pressure to Return from Thai-Myanmar Border at Chiang Mai Seminar

At a public seminar in Thailand last week, Karen and Karenni officials raised concerns about the increasing pressure for refugees to return from the Thai-Myanmar border as international funding for camps dries up.

“The refugees from the Thai-Myanmar border are not ready to return home,” said Naw Elizabeth, deputy director of the Karenni Education Department, who took part in the September 13 seminar at Chiang Mai University.

“We discussed the need for international donors to continue their support as the refugees’ continue to have basic unmet needs [like] education and health,” she added.

The public event, called “Syria to Myanmar: Who are Refugees?” was organized by the US Embassy in Thailand and Chiang Mai University. About 100 people attended, included members of refugee and internally displaced persons assistance groups like the Border Consortium, the Karen Refugee Committee, the Karenni Education Department and the Shan Women’s Action Network.

Over 100,000 refugees live in nine refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border while over 3,000 Karen IDPs remain at the Ei Tu Hta temporary shelter and over 6,000 Shan IDPs are residing in camps along the Thai-Shan border, according to refugee activists. They added that after the Myanmar government and ethnic armed organizations signed ceasefire agreements and started implementing the peace process beginning in 2011, pressure has escalated for refugees and IDPs to return to their homes. While international aid organizations, swamped with other, fresher crises, are forced to dedicate resources elsewhere, the Myanmar refugees say their needs are increasingly going unmet, while lack of livelihoods in their original villages, and in some cases the threat of landmines and fresh conflict, prevents an easy return.

“The international community does not know the real situation of our refugees. I’m glad to have the chance to explain how the issues occurring at the Karen refugee camps are directly related to Myanmar politics,” said Saw Hay Soe Thar Ko, an education officer with the Karen Refugee Committee.

According to participants, a foreign student also discussed the ongoing crisis in Rakhine State at the seminar. Over 400,000 Muslim residents have fled over the border to Bangladesh in the past month, while 30,000 Buddhist and Hindu villagers have been internally displaced by fighting between an insurgent group and the Tatmadaw.

  • Written by Saw Shar/ KIC News

The original article can be viewed via BNI at:

http://www.bnionline.net/news/karen-state/item/3497-refugee-activists-discuss-pressure-to-return-from-thai-myanmar-border-at-chiang-mai-seminar.html