KWO Statement on International Women 2019 Burmese VersioThe Karen Women Organization (KWO) welcomes another International Women’s Day. Our themes for this year is “Courage to Speak, Ending Impunity Now”.
This year marks the 108th year of International Women’s Day. It is extremely important that we look back to celebrate the progress and achievements of women all over the world. It is equally important we commit to continuing the fight for what we believe, overcoming all the challenges we face.
We have come so far. Sadly, we still have a long road to travel but not an impassable one.
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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.
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Karen Women’s Organization
Statement in Support of the Karenni Students’ Protest Against Burmanization
12th February 2019
The Karen Women’s Organization calls on the NLD Government and the Burmese military-run police to show respect both for indigenous history and for peaceful protest. We believe that before we can have true peace in our beloved land we must have mutual respect for our differences and for those things that hold us together.
The Karenni youth have taken a courageous stand against the placement of General Aung San’s statue in the Karenni capital, Loikaw. We as fellow indigenous women understand that Burmese ethnic people hold the General as a hero of their people and the father of their independence. This is not how the indigenous people of Burma view him. He was a General in the Burmese Army. The same Army that attacks civilians, uses rape as a weapon of war and burns villages. The same Army that has forced millions to flee our homeland over the past 70 years. The same Army that causes many of our people to live in poverty and in refugee camps.
We have our own heroes who we would like to see in bronze in the center of our towns. We have been prohibited from honoring them in this way. We cannot have a country that continues to hold one ethnic group above all others, only honoring their history while suppressing ours. We need to respect each other every day. The Karenni youth have shown how divisive the aggressive actions of the NLD government and military are. They are not the first to object to honoring General Aung San in ethnic areas within Burma. There was the protest against naming a bridge in honor of the General. There have been objections raised to put up statues in other areas. It is time for the Burmanization of our country to end. We have many indigenous groups who have a right to a voice and have heroes worth honoring. We want peace to move forward not provocation by those who want to hold us back or make us disappear.
We call on the police to stop interfering with violence against peaceful protest. There have been 55 youth and students arrested and charged in the past 8 months for speaking their truth. They should be granted this basic right of assembly and protest. They face the prospect of long sentences and large fines. All charges should be dropped immediately.
We call on the NLD to listen to the local voices and remove the statues of General Aung San from ethnic areas. The NLD and the Burmese Military should act in the spirit of the Panglong Agreement General Aung San entered into. It promised autonomy for ethnic people in a federal democracy. The best way to honor him today is to grant those rights to the indigenous people of Burma. It is time to recognize the strength in our diversity and the wonderful country that diversity could build if we treated each other with basic human dignity.
We want peace to move forward. These actions would be an olive branch to the indigenous people of Burma.
For more information please contact the Karen Women’s Organization at: firstname.lastname@example.org
From Karen Women’s Organization and Karen News
The IDPs return home with dignity and safety? “We do not dare to go back because of the landmines that are planted in the fields where we make our living. If we go back, we could lose our limbs at any moment.” Currently, the Burma Army’s operations in Mutraw District violates the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and has recently displaced more than 2,000 villagers from their homes. These displaced villagers, feel unsafe, have received threats, concerns and repression to return to their abandoned villages. They feel there is no guarantee for their safety and security and many political problems are unresolved. The displaced Karen people in Ei Tu Hta IDP camp are now facing a massive humanitarian crisis.
Please watch this video produced by KWO and Karen News about the current crisis
Please click here to download the statement, English Version:
Please click here to download the statement, Karen Version:
In his honor, we want to share his life story and achievements with our friends and colleagues all over the world. That we may learn from him and his desire to see real peace in our land.
We feel enormous gratitude to him for his work as a defender of Human Rights and Indigenous Rights, and as a protector of the environment and the Karen way of life.
Saw O Moo, you are not with us anymore but your work will be in our hearts forever. You will be always remembered as a Karen indigenous rights defender and we offer hope that your soul may rest in peace. We make a promise to you to carry on your work in defense of our lands, our identity, and our freedom.
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.
On the occasion of KWO’s 33rd anniversary, April 5, 2018, we celebrate our successes while also looking at our challenges ahead and how to overcome them. KWO will have it’s largest celebration of the anniversary in the Taw Oo District of Karen State led by the KWO Central leadership. The celebration includes a sport competition, a concert showing Karen culture, songs, and dancing. KWO will also present information on KWO’s work, the peace process and gender equality. KWO will particularly honor KWO leaders and staff who have worked full time for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years and 25 years respectively. KWO is the strong vibrant organization we have become because of their commitment and hard work.
It is our honor to recognize Nan Paw Gay as well for her leadership and contribution to our community and to Burma. She is a member of the KWO Standing Committee and has worked in community media. Due to her talent and hard work she rose to Chief Editor of the Karen Information Center in 2008. She was also Burma News International (BNI) Executive Director.
Additionally, we honor a KWO young leader, Naw Hser Hser, a KWO Standing Committee member and Joint General Secretary of the Women’s League of Burma. Naw Hser Hser won the P’doh Mahn Sha Young Leadership Award this year which she will receive on KWO day. KWO congratulates Naw Hser Hser on her award. Naw Hser Hser is a role model for younger women in our community through her hard work for KWO, the Karen community, and the entire ethnic community in Burma.
Both these women show the strength, vision, and hard work of Karen women and inspire all of us through their work.
In addition to all these women we also want to recognize the 80 Traditional Birth Attendants who work with KWO for their incredible contribution to the health and well being of women and children in our community.
KWO will honor 151 women and 2 men today for their positive contribution the Karen community. The list of those being recognized follows:
Women’s Champion in Social Work: Nan Paw Gay, Chief Editor of Karen Information Center and Executive Director of Burma News International
Women with over 25 years of service: P’doh Myaing Poe, P’doh Paw Day Toe, Tharmu Shwe Paw, Thramu Baw Nyaw, P’doh Naw Dah Dah, and Naw Khin Yin
Women with over 10 years of service: 31 women
Women with over 15 years of service: 30 women
Women with over 5 years of service: 5 women
Traditional Birth Attendants: 80 people (78 women and 2 men)