KWO Message International Day to Stop Violence against Women

Today is the special day, recognized in the world, to bring attention to efforts to stop violence against women. The 25th of November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and is also the opening day for the annual Campaign that will last for 16 days and which highlights community-based activism to stop violence against women all over the world. On this special day KWO welcomes and values everyone who wants to co-operate, and unite with us in their hearts, and who will take part in events and activities in the coming days.

kwo-message-stop-violence-against-women-day-2016-english-version

KWO would like to remind all people that this is not a day to express happiness or to feel pleased to be at an opening event. The reason we should not be happy is because today reminds all of us that violence is still used against women. It has not stopped yet; women are still being raped, still being beaten; children are still being raped, still being hurt; and victims of violence still do not get justice.  We all have to take on the responsibility to stop violence against women and children in our own corner of the world, and make sure that perpetrators are found and punished and not allowed to walk free. All of us need to show we will not accept violence in our community.

The theme for the Campaign that KWO has chosen this year is “Strengthen law and promote justice for the protection of women and children”. From KWO’s experience in providing services to women and children who have suffered physical or sexual violence, we see that the law is not enforced effectively, so that the victims are not receiving justice. We believe that strengthening the law and then enforcing that law will be essential to break down and prevent violence used against women and children.

Currently, we say that we need national peace and justice in our country. However, in our own smaller communities, if violence continues and there is no rule of law then we cannot say that we have the peace that we dream of having.

On this day, the Karen Women’s Organization would like to call upon our community, especially the men, to take responsibility to stop violence. If you see anyone using violence with women or with children, please find the best way to stop it and then make sure that action is taken with the perpetrators in accordance with the facts and with the law.

We know that in the community many men do not accept the use of violence. And themselves, they are not violent. However there are some men who do use violence, and do not understand their own power and they misuse it. Therefore it is important for male leaders, including young people in the community, to help to protect women and to protect children, by working to strengthen laws and to promote justice. Men of all ages, should help other men by encouraging them to change, explaining to them, not to use violence, and especially not on women and children. Explain to them that this is a crime and if anyone commits it, action can be taken against them.

KWO believes that in our community, everyone including men, do not want to see violence used on mothers, children, wives, aunts and sisters. Therefore we can stand with a united heart to prevent and respond to violence against women.

We encourage everyone to take responsibility in our own corners to let the violence stop. Following the law and promote justice in the community. We have to work hand in hand in our community to show that we do not accept violence in any form, that we promote justice for all, and that the law is strong enough to genuinely offer protection to women and to children.

In solidarity,

Karen Women’s Organization

 

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Follow up Updates on KWO Need Assessments in Htee Thay Khee and Naw Hta Villages

KWO conducted a need assessment in Htee Thay Khee and Naw Hta, between the 18 – 20 Sept 2016. The total number of IDPs is 530 and they are from Ler Peh Dea,Jay Baw Klo, Thay Kaw, Poe Chit Lea, Nya Mer Tay Hta, Oo Moo Kee and Mae Wah village.The latest number of newly displaced people in Htee Thay Khee is 146 people from 25 families, Naw Hta is 193 from 30 families and in Mae Law Hta is 16 people from 3 families and Mae Tha Waw is 175 people from 38 families.

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The villagers are in urgent need of food, clothing, pots, pans, plates, plastic sheets, water containers, shoes, blankets, mats, mosquito nets and other personal hygiene packages. For the moment this displaced people received some dried foods and clothing from the individuals donation. KWO is coordinating with other Karen CBOs and individuals to response to this emergency situations.

There has been serious fighting in the Mae Tha Waw area of Hpa An District. The Burma Army-proxy Border Guard Force (BGF) attacked a faction of the DKBA and since then the conflict has been going on throughout September.

 

If you interested to contribute please contact KWO at kwocentral@gmail.com or call KWO Emergency Relief Contact Person Naw Paw K’Yeh Moo at 66  857309056 for more information. 

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KWO Message on International Day of Peace 21 September, 2016 Karen Version

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In recognition of International Day of Peace on the 21 September, 2016 we, KWO would like to share our message with everyone and hope to see “Genuine and Sustainable Peace” in Burma soon. KWO main theme for this year is ” Sustainable Peace , need genuine women’s participation”.

Please see KWO Message in Karen for more information.

kwo-international-peace-day-message2016-karen-version

KWO Marks International Women’s Day

Thousands of Karen people joined KWO in celebrating International Women’s Day in 8 sites in both the refugee camps and inside Karen State Burma.  KWO marked the day by calling for the Government of Burma, the Karen National Union and other EAO’s to meet their commitments to women and include them in decision making roles in the peace process.  It’s time for parity.

KWO Begins Work on New Training Center in Karen State – By Women For Women

KWO is celebrating meeting our fundraising goal of $4600(USD) to build a new women’s training center in Karen State.  This is our first successful crowd funding effort.

Work on the new center has already begun. KWO staff and leaders made 1400 clay bricks which are now drying and awaiting the next phase of building.

This campaign is an exciting collaboration between 3 community organisations based in Thailand and working in SE Asia, Karen Women’s Organisation, Pun Pun Centre for Sustainable Development and the International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice  The aim is to build a training centre for Karen women from Burma. But the aim goes way beyond that since Karen women will be building their very own adobe building for their own training centre and at the same time learning the skills to go on to build with adobe in their own communities.

THANKS to everyone who contributed!

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KWO Message for the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women (English Version)

 Karen Women’s Organization (KWO)

Message for International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 

On this day, 25th November 2013, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, KWO is launching a 16-Day Campaign calling for the elimination of violence against women. The awareness raising campaign will take place in the 7 Karen refugee camps and 5 districts inside Karen State. Participants will gain knowledge on how to prevent and stop violence against women, compete in speeches and debates, and participate in community activities aimed at advocating for the protection of women.

“If you see someone committing violence against women, you must stop them. Not stopping violence makes everyone guilty. Victims of violence can seek help from KWO. If victims live in a refugee camp, they can access one of KWO’s safe houses where they will have a safe place to stay and be provided with some material needs and counseling. Victims inside Karen state can get assistance from the KWO leader in their district or township.”

–        Naw K’nyaw Paw, KWO Secretary

To read the entire message, click the link below:

KWO Message for International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 25 Nov 2013

Community Opposes Military to Military Relations

Over many years, the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia have shown concern for human rights violations committed by the Burmese military, against ethnic minorities and others. But the current approach to military-to-military relations proposed by the US, UK and Australia will not prove to be beneficial to our mutual goals in ending human rights violations by the Burmese military. The letter below, signed by 133 ethnic nationalities civil society organizations, including KWO, outlines our concerns and preconditions to military engagement on behalf of the US, UK and Australia.

Burma: Joint Letter from Ethnic Nationalities Civil Society Organizations
Regarding Foreign Military Engagement with the Burmese Military

17 October 2013

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20005

The Right Honourable David Cameron MP
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

The Right Honourable Tony Abbott
Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia
PO Box 6022,
Parliament House
Canberra, ACT 2600

Dear President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron, and Prime Minister Abbott,

We, the undersigned 133 ethnic nationalities civil society organizations, are writing to express our concerns and reservations about your countries’ military engagement with the Burmese military. 

We appreciate the concern the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia have shown over the years for the human rights violations the Burmese military has committed against us, as well as your support for our pursuit of genuine democracy and national reconciliation. While your intentions may be genuine, we are deeply concerned that your current approach to military-to-military relations will neither prove beneficial to our mutual goals of ending the Burmese military’s perpetration of human rights violations against us, nor bring us closer to national reconciliation. We urge you not to pursue military-to-military engagement without taking into consideration our concerns.

Our organizations represent a diverse consortium of Burma’s ethnic minorities – which make up 40% of Burma’s population – who have endured decades of oppression and persecution under Burmese military rule. We have been forced to endure unimaginable atrocities at their hands. They have destroyed our villages, stolen our land, forced us to serve as their slave labor, to carry their equipment as they hunt down, torture, kill, and enslave our fellow ethnic brothers and sisters, and rape, gang-rape, and sexually assault our women and girls. There is not a family amongst us who has not lost a loved one or survived an atrocity committed by the Burmese military. We know the Burmese military intimately, like no one else could. We speak of the past, and we speak of the present. We do not want this to be our future. Now more than ever, the US, UK and Australia must honor their commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities and protect the rights of the ethnic minorities in Burma.

Every military in the world should be trained on international human rights law, the Geneva
Conventions, and international humanitarian law, but it is not a lack of legal expertise that leads the  Burmese military to violate these international laws. It is important to understand the Burmese military does not commit human rights abuses accidentally, out of ignorance, because they do not know any better, or because they are not properly trained. Burmese military leadership orders their officers and soldiers to violate our human rights precisely because that is the objective they aim to achieve. The Burmese military wants to control our land and resources but more so they want to destroy our culture, break our spirit, break our desire for self-determination, demoralize us, and wear down our resistance until we break and agree to their rule.

Training junior officers and soldiers does not address the main problem – that soldiers are committing human rights abuses on the orders of their military and political leaders. Even if soldiers do receive human rights training, it will be impossible and even illegal for them to apply such training. Regardless, human rights violations will continue because the Burmese military command will continue to use proxy militias to carry out attacks and human rights abuses in thinly veiled attempts to conceal official involvement. Violations will also continue to be perpetuated by army involvement in policing and security provision efforts throughout Burma.

The Constitution of Burma is not democratic. It gives the military a dominant role in all levels of government. Nearly every repressive law introduced by past dictatorships remains in place, and new laws introduced since Thein Sein became President do not meet international human rights standards. Unless military engagement preconditions revision of the Constitution, even if soldiers are trained to defend the rule of law, they are in effect being trained to defend a constitution that does not protect human rights and to enforce repressive laws. Despite international perceptions that some of Burma’s political leaders are interested in reform, the Burmese military could not be characterized in such a light. The main reforms in which the military is interested are economic reforms, not democratic reforms. This prioritization greatly benefits the Burmese military leadership, whose large economic interests and holdings ensure they profit enormously from seizing our land and resources. Failure to remove the financial incentive the Burmese military receives from confiscating our land and resources undermines the United States, United Kingdom, and Australian governments’ intent to promote human rights and reform in Burma through foreign investment.

The Burmese military’s lack of commitment to democratic reform is evident in its continuing attacks against ethnic minorities and its failure to work honestly toward a genuine peace. The military broke a 17-year-old ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) in June 2011 and continues to ignore requests to stop the attacks, which have displaced 100,000 people. The military has violated multiple ceasefires that the government has signed with the Karen, Mon, and Shan, and continues to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. Despite statements expressing an interest in national reconciliation by peaceful means by President Thein Sein, Minister Aung Min, and others in the Burmese government, the Burmese military itself has expressed no indication that they are remotely interested in genuine reform and changing their violent practices.

The most obvious first step toward ending human rights abuses by the Burmese army would be for the Burmese government and the Burmese military to publicly acknowledge that human rights abuses have and continue to be committed by the Burmese army. Neither President Thein Sein, government ministers, nor military leaders have ever directly publicly admitted that human rights abuses were committed and continue to be committed at the hands of the military. It is extremely rare for any soldier to be held accountable in any way for any human rights abuses, and soldiers committing human rights abuses thus continue to act with impunity. The military’s failures to admit human rights abuses and hold perpetrators accountable demonstrate a serious lack of commitment to genuine reform and reconciliation.

If the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia are truly interested in helping us convince the Burmese military to stop committing human rights abuses against us, to agree to civilian control over the military, to divest their economic holdings, and to agree to amend the constitution to create a federal union of Burma, then we urge you to implement the following recommendations regarding military-to-military engagement.

The Burmese military wants a relationship with your militaries and the legitimacy and prestige you have given them with this relationship. We thus urge you to use this interest as leverage to attain concrete genuine reform.

Preconditions to Military Engagement, including human rights training:

  • Require the Burmese military to demonstrate a genuine interest in reform by stopping all attacks throughout the country in both ceasefire and non-ceasefire areas, withdrawing from conflict zones (i.e. halting construction and any reinforcement of army camps, and relocating military bases), sending soldiers back to barracks (i.e. halting the use of soldiers in economic development projects), adhering to the conditions of ceasefire agreements, and signing a code of conduct;
  • Require the Burmese government and the Burmese military to publicly acknowledge that human rights abuses have and continue to be committed by the Burmese military and commit to a zero tolerance policy;
  • Require the Burmese military to establish, with international support, an independent military police force that will investigate allegations of human rights abuses by soldiers, and the creation of an open judiciary process where such soldiers are given fair trials and sentences.

Preconditions to Military Engagement, besides human rights training:

  • Require the Burmese military to agree to amend the constitution to provide for civilian control of the military and national reconciliation, and to establish legitimate justice and accountability mechanisms;
  • Require the Burmese military cease all economic activity.

Specific criteria for Military Engagement:

  • Human rights training should include international human rights law, civilian control of the military, and justice and accountability mechanisms both through the chain-of-command and civilian authority;
  • No engagement, meetings, or trainings should take place outside of Burma;
  • US, UK, or Australian government civilian leadership should be present to reinforce the notion of civilian authority over the military;
  • Burmese government civilian leadership should be present to receive training on civilian oversight of the military;
  • Engagement with the Burmese military should be pursued in tandem with engagement with the ethnic armed groups;
  • Do not provide any trainings that enhance the Burmese military’s attack capabilities against ethnic nationalities.

Given the intransigence of the Burmese military toward reform, it is vital that all potential opportunities to end the suffering of our communities and bring about national reconciliation be utilized as best as possible. The Burmese military values engagement with the US, UK, and Australian militaries and the legitimacy it portrays. Allowing military engagement with the Burmese military without requiring the Burmese military to demonstrate an interest in reform and to adhere with our preconditions conveys an undeserved legitimacy on the Burmese military and will jeopardize our efforts to persuade the Burmese military to agree to national reconciliation. We urge you to heed our recommendations; do not waste this opportunity to secure our safety, our lives, and our future.

Sincerely,
Organizations Names, Locations:
Anglican Karen Church, TN, USA
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – Burma/Thailand
Australian Karen Organization Inc., Australia
Back Pack Health Worker Team, Burma/Thailand
Bowling Green Karen Baptist Church, KY, USA
Bridging Rural Integrated Development and Grassroots Empowerment, Burma
Burma Community Rangers Organization, CO, USA
Burma Issues, Burma/Thailand
Burma Medical Association, Burma/Thailand
Burma Partnership, Burma/Thailand
Burmese Ethnic Based Community Organization Of Jacksonville, FL, USA
Burmese Rohingya Community In Australia, Australia
Burmese Rohingya Organization UK, UK
Burmese Women’s Union, Burma/Thailand
Campaign Action Coordination Team, Burma
Chin Human Rights Organization, Canada
Committee of Internally Displaced Karen People, Burma/Thailand
Country-side Karen Community of Georgia, GA, USA
Dallas-Fort Worth Kachin Baptist Church, TX, USA
Denmark Karen Organization, Denmark
Eastern Naga Development Organization, Burma
Ebenezer Karen Church, Dallas, TX, USA
Equality Myanmar/Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, Burma/Thailand
Ethnic Community Development Forum, Burma/Thailand
Euro Kachin Network, Europe
Finland Karen Culture Association, Finland
Generation Wave, Burma
Houston Kachin Community, TX, USA
Htoi Gender and Development Foundation, Burma
Human Rights Foundation of Monland, Burma/Thailand
Indiana Karen Baptist Fellowship, IN, USA
Joint Action Committee for Democratic Burma, Australia
Jury’s Orphanage, Thailand/Burma
Kachin Alliance, USA
Kachin Association Norway, Norway
Kachin Association of Australia, Australia
Kachin Baptist Church of Georgia, GA, USA
Kachin Canadian Association, Canada
Kachin Catholic Community, Austin, TX, USA
Kachin Catholic Community, TX, USA
Kachin Christian Association of America, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Kachin Christian Fellowship of Utah, UT, USA
Kachin Community of Denmark, Denmark
Kachin Community of Indiana, IN,USA
Kachin Community of Louisiana, LA, USA
Kachin Community of Mississippi, MS, USA
Kachin Community of Tennessee, TN, USA
Kachin Community Sweden, Sweden
Kachin Community the Netherlands, the Netherlands
Kachin Community UK, UK
Kachin Community, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Kachin Culture and Literature Association of San Francisco Bay Area, CA, USA
Kachin Development Foundation, FL, USA
Kachin Development Network Group, Burma/Thailand
Kachin Development Society of Nebraska, NE, USA
Kachin Literature and Culture Community, Singapore
Kachin National Organization (UK), UK
Kachin Peace Network, Burma
Kachin Women Association Thailand, Burma/Thailand
Karen American Organization of Connecticut, CT, USA
Karen Association of Iowa, IA, USA
Karen Community Association UK, UK
Karen Community Norway, Norway
Karen Community of Canada, Canada
Karen Community of Kansas City, KS, USA
Karen Community of Minnesota, MN, USA
Karen Community of New Bern, NC, USA
Karen Community Association of Wisconsin, WI
Karen Community Society of British Columbia, Canada
Karen Environmental and Social Action Network, Burma/Thailand
Karen Human Rights Group, Burma/Thailand
Karen National Community Netherlands, Netherlands
Karen Office of Relief and Development, Burma/Thailand
Karen Teacher Working Group, Burma/Thailand
Karen Women Empowerment Group, Burma
Karen Women’s Organization, Burma/Thailand
Karen Youth Organization, Burma/Thailand
Karenni Civil Societies Network, Burma/Thailand
Karenni Federation of Australia Inc., Australia
Karenni National Women’s Organization, Burma/Thailand
Karenni National Youth Organization, Burma/Thailand
Kaung Rwai Social Action Network, Burma
Kayan National Development Foundation, Burma/Thailand
Kayan Women’s Organization, Burma/Thailand
Kuki National Organization, Burma
Kuki Students Democratic Front, Burma
Kuki Women’s Human Rights Organization, Burma
Lahu National Development Organization, Burma/Thailand
Lahu Women’s Organization, Burma/Thailand
Louisville Karen Community, KY, USA
Methodist Karen Church, TN, USA
Michigan Kachin Community, MI, USA
Mid-Atlantic Kachin Christian Fellowship, PA, USA
Mon National Council (MNC), Australia
Mon Youth Progressive Organization, Burma/Thailand
Nationalities Youth Forum, Burma/Thailand
New Myanmar Foundation, Burma
New Zealand Kachin Community, New Zealand
New Zealand Karen Association, New Zealand
NINGTAWN, Kachin Education Support Group, Burma
Overseas Mon Women’s Organization, Burma/Thailand
Overseas Mon Coordinating Committee, USA
Palaung Women’s Organization, Burma/Thailand
Pan Kachin Development Society, Burma/Thailand
Pa-O National Liberation Organization, Burma/Thailand
Pa-O Women’s Union, Burma/Thailand
Pennsylvania/ New Jersey Kachin Fellowship, PA, USA
People’s Defense Force, Burma/Thailand
Phoenix Kachin Community, AZ, USA
Queensland Kachin Community, Australia
Rakhine Women’s Union, Burma/Bangladesh
Rockford Karen Baptist Church, IL, USA
Shan Herald Agency for News, Burma/Thailand
Shan Human Rights Foundation, Burma/Thailand
Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization, Burma/Thailand
Shan Women’s Action Network, Burma/Thailand
Shan Youth Power, Burma/Thailand
Students and Youth Congress of Burma, Burma/Thailand
Social and Health Development Association, Thailand
Ta’ang Students and Youth Organization, Burma/Thailand
Tavoyan Women’s Union, Burma/Thailand
Tavoyan Youth Organization, Burma/Thailand
Texas Kachin Baptist Church, TX, USA
United Ethnic Nationalities Association, CA, USA
United Kachin Association-Dallas, TX, USA
United Lahu Youth Organization, Burma/Thailand
Utica Karen Community, NY, USA
Washington Kachin Fellowship Committee, USA
Women and Child Rights Project, Burma/Thailand
Women Initiatives Network for Peace, Burma
Women Peace Network-Arakan, Burma
Women’s League of Burma, Burma/Thailand
Women’s Rights & Welfare Association of Burma, New Delhi, India

CC:
John Kerry, US Secretary of State
Chuck Hagel, US Secretary of Defense
William Hague MP, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Philip Hammond MP, UK Secretary of State for Defence
Julie Bishop, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs
David Johnston, Australian Minister for Defence

War and Peace – A woman’s view , Interview with KWO Secretary

Naw K’nyaw Paw, an executive member of the Karen Women’s Organization, in an exclusive interview with Karen News spoke about the need for women to be included in peace talks as stipulated under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, the impact of drugs and gambling on family life and the added stresses women now face in Burma’s changing political landscape…

Read more: karennews.org/2013/09/war-and-peace-a-womans-view-part-1.html/ and Part 2 karennews.org/2013/09/war-and-peace-a-womans-view-part-2.html/

KWO 2011 – 2012 Two Year Update

KWO is pleased to provide our 2011/12-update report including programs currently running in the community, challenges and successes, financial reports, KWO special activities and a Call to Action. One thing that remains true throughout KWO’s 28 years of service is our commitment to the Empowerment, Equality, and Freedom of all Karen women. Thank you to KWO staff, leaders, members, volunteers, community members, partner organizations and funders who help make KWO successful!

KWO 2011-2012 Two Year Update

28th Anniversary of KWO Day

On 5 April 2013 KWO celebrated the 28th anniversary of KWO Day. KWO Day took place in four areas of Karen State, Kler Day Trae in Lu Plae Township Pa’An district, Pyae Kah village Taw Oo District, Dooplaya district and Ei Tu Tah refugee camp. KWO Day was also celebrated in an urban area in Thailand and also in refugee camps in Thailand, Mae Ra Moe, Mae La Oo, Umphiem, and Mae La. KWO Central worked together with the Karen people, and Karen leaders at the camp and district levels. KNU leaders, CBO’s, and villagers came together and celebrated KWO Day. During the ceremony, there were several speeches from KNU leaders, CBO leaders, and Karen leaders from the Karen district.

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In some areas, there were activities and competitions. Activities like singing, painting pictures and questionnaires. Continue reading