A public peace process is needed in Burma to restore hope for indigenous displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and others, the Women's League of Burma (WLB) said in a statement on Tuesday.
Marking World Refugee Day, the WLB called for public participation to ensure a genuine and sustainable peace process, while releasing the results of its Peace Signature Campaign launched in February 2012.
A total of 17,063 people, mostly IDPs, refugees and migrant workers signed an open letter to Thein Sein's government, the Burmese army, pro-democracy groups, ethnic armed groups and political alliances in exile, the WLB said.
“It was hard for us to organize a signature campaign amongst the migrants and refugees in camps. Refugees were told that they were not allowed to carry out political activities, or talk about politics, even when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visited Mae La refugee camp in early June,” said Naw Wah Ku Shee, the WLB joint general-secretary II.
“At present, we are worried about the increased number of war refugees in Kachin State, and the fighting continues despite some reforms taking place; now the number has increased to almost 80,000 IDPs,” she said.
“In Rakhine State, there is also a fierce crisis where thousands of people are now refugees; in particular it is women and children who are facing a humanitarian crisis. The government must take full responsibility for the safety, including urgent arrangements for food and shelter for these people.”
Political resolution of the sixty-year ethnic conflict will not come only through official negotiations between the government and armed groups alone, she said. The country's citizens and civil society organizations can play a crucial role in finding solutions to issues that should be on the negotiation agenda.
Only public participation in the process can create a genuine peace that fully guarantees fundamental human rights and human security, said the WLB.
Tin Tin Nyo, the WLB general-secretary, said, “This year's theme for World Refugee Day is ‘Restoring Hope.’ A public peace process is needed in Burma to restore hope for IDPs and refugees to return home and live safely. It is essential to have women’s participation at all levels of the peace process so that their concerns and voices are included in the discussion.”
The Women’s League of Burma is urging political parties, civil society organizations, religious organizations, all armed forces, refugees and citizens to become involved in a “public peace process” that mobilizes people in all communities to raise awareness and support for peace and to highlight issues that are critical and must be included in negotiations.
For more information, go to www.womenofburma.org