The Women’s League of Burma, in a statement to mark the 18th Anniversary of the founding of their organization, has expressed concern about the ongoing conflicts in Myanmar, the negative effects on civilians, and the fallout from the Rakhine crisis.
The following is the statement of the Women’s League of Burma issued on December 9:
Today marks the 18th anniversary of the Women’s League of Burma (WLB). WLB was founded on December 9, 1999. The mission of WLB is to promote a transition towards a federal democracy in Burma, support women's empowerment, and advance the status of women on every level. The organization also works to increase the participation of women in all sectors of society and at all levels of the struggle for democracy and lasting peace. WLB is an umbrella organization that comprises 13 women's groups of different ethnic backgrounds from across Burma.
The WLB is firmly committed to the national reconciliation process and the formation of equitable and lasting peace that incorporates all ethnic nationalities within a federal democratic system. The organization has been working with victims that have been negatively impacted by the ongoing conflict, seeking justice for women and those who are struggling under the military regime for the past eighteen years.
While the Union government continues to implement a Burma/Myanmar peace process aimed at stopping ethnic conflicts, military offensives is still continuing in ethnic conflict zones. Civilians continue to face serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, forced labor, threats, torture, rape, sexual harassment, and physical and economic insecurity. Thousands of local people have been internally displaced.
The WLB reinforces our concern for the increasing number of IDPs and refugees that have been displaced due to ongoing fighting with military forces. WLB has found that women's insecurity extends beyond conflict zones, and women continue to lack protection due to weak rule of law. Drug problems are also creating more aggression within communities nationwide, which creates more violence against women.
Since August 2017, the conflict in Rakhine state has escalated to a level that is deeply threatening the safety and security of all citizens, in addition to our national sovereignty. Following a campaign of operational clearings carried out by the state army (Tatmadaw), civilians have experienced severe and negative impacts to their safety and livelihoods. Ongoing violence has led thousands of refugees from the Rakhine ethnic group and other minority backgrounds to flee to neighboring Bangladesh in order to find protection. We are very concerned for the security and health of IDPs and refugees, especially women and children.
WLB continues to work towards a peaceful and just society in Burma, based on a federal democratic system, which includes self-determination, ethnic equality and equality for all women. We urge the parliament, government and Tatmadaw; all ethnic armed organizations; all political parties and civil society organizations to work cooperatively to bring peace. WLB urges the government to take action on the elimination of drugs.
The WLB has committed to work with other alliances and democratic forces to raise the voices of women in local communities - those whose voices remain unheard. At the 18th anniversary of the WLB, we continue to be committed.