Myanmar: Communities across Shan State vent frustration at ongoing abuses during peace process

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    Press Release by the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN)
    Communities across Shan State vent frustration at ongoing abuses during peace process
    19 December 2012

    Communities attending recent public meetings across Shan State vented frustration at ongoing abuses despite the fact that the new peace process has been underway for over a year. After co-hosting the “Trust Building for Peace Conference” in Rangoon from 26-28 November, initiated by the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) and organized by Shan civil society groups, SWAN members travelled for nearly three weeks to meet communities in Taunggyi, Nongkhio, Kyaukme, Hsipaw, Lashio, Kesee, Hsenwi, Kutkai, Namkham, Muse and Kengtung.

    Despite being closely monitored by military authorities, hundreds of people joined the public meetings, hosted by members of the SNLD, the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) and Shan Literature and Culture Associations. Villagers raised concerns about land confiscation and environmental degradation from investment projects, continued fighting despite ceasefire agreements, and ongoing human rights violations, including sexual violence, by the Burma Army.

    Women urged SWAN to continue speaking out about military impunity for sexual violence.
    “The rapes reported by SWAN are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more cases which are untold. We want to work with SWAN to bring justice for our people,” said a woman in Kyaukme.

    Many villagers spoke out against China’s laying of oil and gas pipelines through their lands in northern Shan State. Women desperate to support their families described secretly trying to cultivate their confiscated fields.

    SWAN joined over 300 farmers, monks and MPs in a prayer ceremony in Bawgyo, Hsipaw, on December 5th, to protest the safety threat posed by the pipelines in this salt farming area. Locals, who have to renovate the bases of their houses due to salt corrosion each year, fear that the pipelines may rupture and explode.

    “People in Shan State are asking what sort of peace this is, when they losing more and more of their lands and livelihoods,” said Ying Harn Fah, spokesperson of SWAN.

    The voices of communities highlight the urgent need to end militarization in ethnic areas, so that people can participate freely in the peace process. Many also echoed the calls of the “Trust Building for Peace Conference” to establish a federal union to bring genuine equality and peace to Burma.

    Details of the peace conference and SWAN’s recent trip in Shan State are attached.

    Contact persons:
    Ying Harn Fah: +66 89 262 7848
    Charm Tong: + 66 81 603 6655
    Hseng Noung: +95 94 027 67519