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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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

KWO Statement on International Women’s Day

 

“Be Bold For Change” 

Happy International Women’s Day to all women around the world. We all deserve this special day and recognition for what we do and what we contribute to our family, community and country.

On this special day we, KWO, encourage ALL WOMEN everywhere to be bold for the change you want to see in this world, NOW and every day!

We stand together with women everywhere and stand in solidarity with you in our shared struggles for peace and justice in our homes, villages, communities, countries and the world.

We are proud to be with you and to be part of the women’s community made up of so many amazing women, like you, around the world and here at home. Together, we can be bold.  By becoming stronger, we can continue to change the world one step and one leap at a time!

KWO Statement on International Women’s Day 2017 English version

KWO Statement on International Women’s Day Karen Version

KWO Statement on International Women’s Day Burmese Version

KWO Message: On-Going Use of Rape by Burma Army

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.”

KWO Message International Day to Stop Violence against Women

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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

 

KWO New Report: Salt In The Wound

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:

KWO Formal Message on 65th Karen Martyr’s Day, 12th August, 2015 Karen Version

KWO Formal Message on 65th Karen Martyr’s Day 2015.pdf Karen Version

In recognition and remembrance of our up coming 65th Karen Martyr’s Day, KWO Central sending out our Formal Message to all Karen People to remind all of us of the important day for our Karen people.

May all Karen Martyr’s souls rest in peace!

May all Karen Martyr’s families be blessed and full of prosperity!

May all Karen people united!

KWO Central Successfully Completed Community Organizing Trip to Kler Lwee Htu , Taw Oo and Hpa-An districts

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KWO Central completed a successful Community Organizing trip between 22nd March and 9th April 2015 to the three districts in Karen State. KWO Central divided into two small groups including KWO Executive Committee members, Central Standing Committee members, Project Management Team members and some other KWO staff members. The two groups went to Kler Lwee Htu, Taw Oo and Hpa An districts. They met with more than 1,500 people within the Karen community to discuss and share information about the work of KWO and the Peace Process. It was also a chance to learn more about the local current situation. KWO Central team were pleased to meet with different local and community leaders. We would like to send our heartfelt thanks to all of the township leaders, district leaders, district KWO members and responsible people who assisted our teams during these trips. We very much appreciate all their hard work. Community Organizing trips are an important part of KWO’s work as they help the Central staff and committee members to connect with the local community, learn about new developments and keep everyone informed and up to date.