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

Uncertain Future!

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

Uncertain Future!

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.

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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 Team Creates  A Kid Friendly Environment in Displaced Villages

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.

 

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KWO Special Education Program – Hard at Work

In August 2013 we conducted a one week basic Montessori Training workshop for Special Education and Nursery School Project  senior staff and trainer.  The training covered the Montessori method and principles. During the workshop participants also went to a Thai private primary school (Tan Tip) and The Christian Center for the Development of People with Disabilities.

In September and again in October senior staff conducted a two week basic Montessori training to all teachers in all 7 Karen camps. There was also a follow up training, and monitoring in Nu Poe, Umpiem , Ma La, Mae Ra Ma Luang and Mae La Oo camps.

KWO implemented Montesori teaching methods in its special education project this year. These trainings are part of our ongoing efforts to improve and develop our work and services.

Also in August we conducted one week workshop covering our Deaf Curriculum. There were about 15 participants, a trainer, deaf students and KWO project staff.

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