08 April, 2021
Chiang Mai, Thailand
At a virtual press conference held today, women of Burma/Myanmar shared how the human rights situation is deteriorating in the country with continuous military offensives in ethnic areas, with recent airstrikes in Karen State and fighting in Kachin and Shan states. Since illegitimately claiming control of the country’s affairs on 1st February, the armed and security forces of the military coup council have waged violence against peacefully protesting civilians across Burma.
The General Secretary of Women’s League of Burma (WLB) said, “In a country that has experienced over 70 years of civil war, the abuse of power by the military is nothing new, especially for ethnic people who have been oppressed by the state for years. In the past two months, Burma has turned into a pool of blood as the world is watching and the military regime has continued committing all arbitrary acts of violence and atrocities with impunity. At least 43 women and girls have been killed.”
“While the military has brutally shot dead innocent civilians in urban areas, they are also launching air attacks and bombing the villages in Karen State. The airstrikes have displaced thousands of Karen civilians, and at least 14 people were killed and 40 more were injured, including women and children,” said a representative of Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO).
A representative of Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT) shared, “The military coup will have the deepest impact on those who are already marginalised due to the decades of civil war and ongoing human rights violations committed by Burmese military. Humanitarian aid must be closely monitored to ensure that it benefits the conflict-affected ethnic communities and not the military. At the same time they need to make sure that all women and girls get access to basic reproductive health services.”
Since the early 50s, Shan State’s countryside has been a killing field and civilians have been caught in the crossfire. A representative of Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) said, “Now Burma’s killing fields have extended to urban areas. Every day, the security forces of the military coup council have shot, killed and arrested the innocent civilians including women and children across the country. Now they are also destroying and looting people’s properties.”
“State has the obligation to protect its own people. Inside Burma, this responsibility is clearly failing. It is time for the international community to immediately exercise its universal, collective responsibility to protect the peoples of Burma from the ongoing state-sponsored ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Only then it will be proved how committed the UN and its member states are to the fundamental principles and purposes of the UN Charter. We need international solidarity – and your action counts,” said Misun Woo, Regional Coordinator of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD).
The women came together for a call for collective action from the international community:
- To immediately dispatch a well-equipped monitoring and intervention mission to Myanmar/Burma to end the state sponsored human rights violations being perpetrated against civilians exercising their rights to peaceful assembly.
- To institute a comprehensive global arms embargo on Myanmar/Burma, to end the direct and indirect supply sale or transfer of all weapons and other military equipment that may be used for training, intelligence and military assistance.
- To refer Military coup council members and personnel to the ICC for their mass atrocities against peaceful protesters, ethnic Kachin, Karen, Shan, Rohingya, Rakhine and other civilians.
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Women’s League of Burma (WLB)
WLB founded in 1999 is an umbrella organisation comprised of 13 grassroots women’s organisations of different ethnic and political backgrounds from Burma/Myanmar.
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
APWLD is feminist network with over 250 members in Asia and the Pacific region. Over the past 34 years, APWLD has actively worked towards advancing women’s human rights and Development Justice. We are an independent, non-governmental, non-profit organisation and hold consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.