As women – trafficking survivors, mothers, sisters, activists – we honour the nuns and monks who walked barefoot in the streets of Rangoon, Mandalay and other parts of Burma to protest against the 45-year old military regime. Sparked by the recent sharp fuel price hikes, the Burmese religious and people started pouring to the streets after a deadline set by the monks themselves. We feel their suffering and those of their people, women and men, in poverty and severe fascist rule.
We know that at least 1,228,000 children have been in forced labour to build roads, bridges for the junta. At least 230,000 women have been trafficked to Thailand, China and Pakistan. Rape by the Burmese military, particularly against ethnic women, is institutional and endemic throughout areas of conflict in Burma.
We are aware that young mother activists such as Nilar Thein and Mei Mei are forced into hiding for resisting the junta. That nuns and lay people are targeted by beatings and perhaps even killing, in the resent uprising. At least 6,000 are now in prison and are missing. More than a hundred are confirmed dead. The death toll is expected to rise as more credible information trickles out of the country.
But we are heartened by their resistance, when Nilar Thein slapped a high-ranking police officer in a demonstration in 1996 for blocking the students’ march. Su Su Nway launched a successful lawsuit in 2000 against local officials, for organizing forced labor. In her words: “Because we are in hiding does not mean that we are in retreat.” Mei Mei continue to defy the junta by being in the frontline of marches since they sparked in August 2007.
This deplorable junta ought to step down now. The suffering of the Burmese women and people ought to end. We call on all women and peoples of the world to pressure the SPDC in unison, to stop immediately the repression and give way to the call for people’s democracy. We call on the ASEAN to expel Burma. We call specifically on the governments of Australia, the British Virgin Islands, China, France, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Russia, and the United States to stop their operations in the country, specifically their oil and gas investments. Revenues from them have been “fuelling” the repressive regime.
Finally, we laud the nuns, monks and protesters for being able to pressure Junta leaders to meet with Daw Aung Suu Kyi, but we remain to deplore the Junta’s conditional consent to dialogue with the opposition.
Burma, out of ASEAN now!
Democracy for the Burmese People!
Onward to Victory!
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
Alliance of Progressive Labor – Women (APL-Women)
Apne Aap – India
FORWARD – Thailand
Sarilaya – Philippines
Batis – AWARE – Philippines
Bagong Kamalayan Collective of Prositution Survivors – Philippines
BUKLOD – Philippines
Kanlungan Center Foundation, Inc. – Philippines