The Kachin Women’s Peace forum was held for two days, from September 28 to 29, 2016, in City Park Royal Restaurant, Myitkyina, Kachin State. The forum was attended by 104 women leaders, including representatives from IDP camps in areas of Kachin and northern Shan State where military offensives are currently taking place. Peace and women’s security issues were discussed.
The aims of the forum were as follows:
- To enable women to participate meaningfully in current political and peace processes
- To share among Kachin women the recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review Human Rights report and CEDAW report
- To have effective cooperation between women’s groups and networks working at different levels, from local to international.
During the two days, discussions were held about challenges faced by women in their daily lives, related to politics, socio-economic security, natural resources, the environment, violence against women, and gender discrimination. In order to overcome these challenges effectively, development of new policies and laws, and strategies to advocate and mobilize cooperatively as a network were discussed.
All of the women leaders attending the forum agreed that the most immediate challenge facing women is the urgent need to end military offensives and begin a genuine all-inclusive peace process.
From the discussions, it was clear that there has been failure to implement the UPR and CEDAW recommendations, particularly the need for the government to fully protect women and children’s rights, ensure security for civilians, protect the rights of civilians in conflict zones, and enable provision of humanitarian aid.
During the two-day discussion, women’s leaders raised the following concerns:
- During the past 40 days, since before the 21st Century Panglong Conference until today, in Kachin areas, the Myanmar Tatmadaw has used fighter aircraft and artillery to carry out large scale offensives, which have terrorized innocent civilians in IDP camps and villages (especially on September 28, when the attacks were fiercest).
- Shells have exploded near IDP camps and villages, causing injury among civilians, including children. Every day, children, elderly and women are living in fear, facing physical and mental insecurity. (On September 25, at 5 am, three 81 mm shells exploded near Munglai Khyet and Wai Chyai IDP camps in Bhamo District, and on September 28, fighing intensified near Magayang IDP camp in Myitkyina District. On October 1 at 6 am, fighting took place in Buwan village, Mong Ko tract, northern Shan State, and three children, aged 6, 5 and 2 years old were seriously injured. The 2-year-old child died immediately, and the other two are in critical condition.)
- The delivery of vital humanitarian aid to IDPs, including food and medicine, has been delayed, due to the need to apply for permission at different levels. The restriction of humanitarian aid is a violation of international humanitarian law (for example, due to the announcement by the State government that aid could only be delivered to IDP camps with official permission, the Myanmar Tatmadaw did not allow food supplies from WFP to be transported to Man Win Gyi IDP camp, and medicines supplied by UNOCHA were confiscated.)
We urgently appeal to the State Counsellor and Nobel Peace Laureate, the President, the Defence Minister, the Pyethu Hlutdaw, Kachin State Chief Minister, Kachin State government and MPs, to immediately stop the military offensives being carried out by the Myanmar Tatmadaw in Kachin areas, and to ensure that vital humanitarian aid is provided to innocent civilians, without any restriction. We urge that all armed groups, including the Myanmar Tatmadaw, act in accordance with the current peace process, to bring about peace as soon as possible.
Furthermore, in order to build peace, we Kachin women urge all stakeholders, including international governments, donors and the Peace Commission, and negotiation teams of the armed groups to negotiate to bring about an end to the current fighting, and to ensure the security of innocent civilians and the provision of humanitarian aid without restriction.
Altogether 104 women’s leaders from 16 areas of Kachin and northern Shan State, from 21 women’s groups/networks attended the forum. Participants were from the following organizations:
Kachin Women’s Union – 6 women
Kachin Women’s Association Thailand – 8 women
Kachin Women’s Group (Myitkyina) – 1 woman
Kachin Women’s Group (Sadung) – 1 woman
Kachin Women’s Group (Laiza) – 2 women
Kachin Women’s Group (Maijayang) – 2 women
Kachin Women’s Group (Hpakant) – 1 woman
Kachin Women’s Peace Network – 4 women
Kachin Baptist Convention (Women’s Department) – 13 women
Myanmar Baptist Council (Women’s Department) – 3 women
Independent Christian Women’s Group (ICM) – 2 women
Myitkyina District Women’s Group – 4 women
Anglican Church Women’s Group – 2 women
Catholic Church Women’s Group – 2 women
Longvo Baptist Women’s Group – 2 women
Lisu Baptist Women’s Group – 1 woman
LCC Laykone Women’s Group – 1 woman
KLCC Kachin Laykone Women’s Group – 1 woman
Htoi Gender and Development Foundation – 5 women
Myusha Zinlum (Hpakant) – 12 women
Myushayi Zinlum (Myitkyina) – 5 women
Kachin Legal Aid Network – 2 women
Mong Baw Zone Kachin Baptist Women’s Group – 5 women
Northern Shan Kachin Baptist Women’s Group – 2 women
Kutkhai Zone Kachin Baptist Women’s Group – 4 women
Kachin Lawyer Network (Northern Shan State) – 1 woman
Wunpawng Ninghtoi – 2 women
Hting Nai Zone Kachin Baptist Women’s Group – 2 women
Chibwe township Kachin Baptist Convention Women’s Department – 1 woman
Putao township Kachin Baptist Convention Women’s Department – 1 woman
Danai township Kachin Baptist Convention Women’s Department – 1 woman
Bhamo Zone Kachin Baptist Women’s Group – 1 woman
Kachin State Assembly Members of Parliament – 2 women
Kachin Technical Advisory Team – 2
Seng Zin (Kachin Women’s Association Thailand) 09 250790328
Kai Ra (Myusha Zinlum, Hpakant) – 09 47035359
May Sabe Phyu @ L. Hkawn Htoi (Kachin Women’s Peace Network) – 09 788798053