Speaking with representatives of the ethnic bloc Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) and members of 12 Burmese political parties in Chiang Mai on Monday, general-secretary of the Thailand-based Women’s League of Burma (WLB) Tin Tin Nyo called for political support to amend the Burmese Constitution to put laws in place to protect women and children from abuse.
Speaking to DVB on Monday, Tin Tin Nyo said, “We stressed at the meeting that we believe it is necessary to amend the 2008 Constitution as it protects those who violate women’s rights. We also urge the various parties in the peace process to help adopt policies that will ensure justice and security for women.”
Tin Tin Nyo added that she called for efforts in parliament to legally protect women who may be subjected to sexual violations by the army. “They [other representatives] said the parliament has been working on protecting women from violence, but a law was yet to be passed,” she said.
Hkyet Hting Nan, chairman of the United Democracy Party of Kachin State (UDPKS) and ethnic affairs committee secretary in Burma’s upper house, said, “What we learned from the WLB made our hearts heavy – women have significance both in society and the government. However, they are not provided much role or priority during conflicts, and it’s usually women and children who suffer the most.”
He said such meetings should be held more frequently as they allow organisations based both inside and outside Burma to better understand each other.
“We believe that having frequent meetings like this will allow us to work more efficiently to bring about democratic reforms and peace in the country,” he said.
“We are pleased to learn that the NCCT has been working continuously towards establishing a nationwide ceasefire, and will meet a government delegation again in the coming months – a very positive sign.”
He added that having a chance to meet directly with the WLB would allow his party members a better understanding of the situation of women and children in conflict and encourage a sense of responsibility to bring an end to the fighting.
Dr. Manam Tuja, chairman of the Kachin State Democracy Party (KSDP), also hailed the NCCT’s engagement with Naypyidaw as a positive sign for peace in the country.
“I see these step-by-step developments undertaken by the NCCT as positive; moving forward,” said Manam Tuja, who is the former vice-chairman of the ethnic armed group Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO).
“We learned that the NCCT has a series of meetings lined up – among ethnic groups and also with the Myanmar Peace Centre.”
The Burmese political party representatives, while in Thailand for the meeting, are also due to visit Bangkok where they will study electoral procedures.