KWO Statement in Karen Version:
KWO Statement in English Version:
On the 23rd of November, KWO members and leaders were excited to launch our 16 day International Days for the Elimination of Violence against Women Campaign. The KWO campaign focus this year, is “Stop Domestic Violence Against Women and Children”. We will have activities in 7 Karen Refugees Camps and 7 districts in Karen State for members of our community to participate in. Below are photos from the launch.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, individual sponsors and support from the community, KWO was able to continue the Special Education Project successfully throughout the 2016-17 school year. We thank you for your encouragement and assistance. We are looking forward to the new year and hope you all stay with us!
16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence Against Women
KWO Message: On-going Sexual Violence by Burma Army
During this current 16 Day Campaign to increase awareness about Violence Against Women, KWO feels obligated to raise our voices about the on-going use of rape and other forms of violence against women by the Burma Army.
In Burmese military operations in Arakan State over the past months, there have been consistent reports received of widespread, systematic sexual violence against Rohingya women by Burma Army troops. In a little over one month, 192 reports have been received of incidents of rape committed by Burma military. We are deeply pained by these reports, which revive memories of similar horrors endured for decades by women in our communities at the hands of the Burma Army. Other reports continue to emerge of the widespread use of torture, unlawful killings, and disappearances suffered by the Rohingya people at the hands of the Burma Army soldiers. Cases of 428 deaths, and 192 disappearances of Rohingya people have been documented. Our hearts go out to the Rohingya women and their families at this time.
We are further saddened by the NLD government’s denial of these reports of sexual and physical violence by Burma Army troops. We expected the Army to deny the reports, as they always have, but we did not expect the NLD to do the same. We had higher hopes also from Nobel Peace Laureate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. In 2011 she said “Rape is used in my country as a weapon against those who only want to assert their basic human rights, especially in the areas of the ethnic nationalities. Rape is rife. It is used as a weapon by the armed forces to intimidate the ethnic nationalities and to divide our country.” So we had such hope that sexual violence by Burmese soldiers would not be allowed to happen if DASSK was in power, or if it did happen, she would quickly take action, or speak out against it. We see now that these were empty political words.
In June 2014, Burma signed the “Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict”. There was a lot of media publicity, and the Burma government smiled with Hollywood movie stars in London under the limelight of world attention. We wonder when will be the right time for Burma to act on their promises. There are 12 commitments in that Declaration they signed and none of them have been honoured as yet. Burmese soldiers continue to rape with impunity. How are signatories to the Declaration held to account?
From 2005 to 2016, eleven women’s organization from Burma, published at least 33 separate reports on the violence against women perpetrated by the soldiers of the Burma Army. All of this evidence has been denied by the Burma Army and Burma governments. Denial, then impunity, is the pattern of behavior we have observed for generations. Is it possible all these women are lying? Or could it be true that soldiers of the Burma Army are aggressive and abuse their power and are not held to account?
Burma Army soldiers are well-trained and well-equipped. They have jet fighters bombing villages in Kachin State; there are many officers; a chain of command; penalties for disobeying orders, like most armies in the world. For Burma Army soldiers to rape with impunity, on this scale and for this length of time, it requires the collusion of the whole national military hierarchy. When soldiers rape and nothing is done, their commanders are also guilty. When nothing is done by commanders, no order disseminated that rape will not be tolerated, the whole army and the national government are all guilty.
In honour of the courage of women in Myanmar, we ask Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD government today, to make a simple nation-wide announcement: “Sexual violence is prohibited to members of the Mynamar Army. Any Myanmar soldier found to have committed this crime, and his commanding officers, will be severely punished.”
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 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.
Karen Women’s Organization
As we reported earlier a KWO team went to distribute the emergency supplies to recently displaced Karen families in two Karen Villages. Our team also bought some refreshment for children to help make them happier in this difficult situation. These are pictures from the visit.
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 email@example.com or call KWO Emergency Relief Contact Person Naw Paw K’Yeh Moo at 66 857309056 for more information.
On this important day, 25th of November we recognize the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Today we pay tribute to all women who have suffered violence, and we honour your strength.
As part of KWO’s efforts to eliminate violence against women, we take part every year in the “16 Days of Activism” Campaign, which also starts today, and closes on December 10th, the International Day for Human Rights. We will be conducting many events and activities in our community over the next 16 days and hope these will contribute in some way to make change that reduces violence against women.
Today we are proud to launch a new KWO report about SGBV cases in the refugee camps. The report is called “Salt in the Wound: Justice Outcomes and SGBV Cases in the Karen refugee camps, 2011-13”.
The report documents the results of research into the justice outcomes of 289 cases of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) in the seven Karen-majority refugee campslocated along the Thai-Burma border. The results of our research are staggering, and provide ample evidence for the need for change.
In the vast majority (80%) of all the SGBV cases in six of the seven camps, women received inadequate justice responses. Even in cases of sexual violence, including rape, we found that there were very weak responses by the judicial systems. The inadequate justice outcomes include perpetrators just signing an agreement to say that they won’t do it again (usually with no follow up to ensure that they don’t), or paying a small fine to the authorities (usually with zero compensation for the victim) or almost no action at all by authorities. This is not good enough for crimes of violence.
We ask that you download our report, read it, and allow it to motivate you to take action for change. Join us in the important work of eliminating violence against women.
Please Click here for English Version of Full Report:
Please Click here for Karen Version of Full Report: