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During the UN Commission on the Status of Women’s 65th Session and in response to the Myanmar military’s coup on February 1, Women’s Peace Network, and 181 local, regional, and international organizations championing women’s rights across the world, urge the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution referring the situation of Myanmar to the International Criminal Court; dispatching a monitoring and mediating body to the country; imposing economic sanctions, and financial penalties and restrictions, on the junta leadership and military-owned and military-controlled businesses; imposing a comprehensive and global arms
embargo on the country.
“The UN Security Council’s lack of concrete action has intensified these violent attacks against the peaceful protesters,” warns Wai Wai Nu, Founder and Executive Director of Women’s Peace Network, “the Council’s historical failure to take action against the Myanmar military for their crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity emboldened them to stage a coup, and now commit crimes against everyone in the country.”
Nationwide, the Myanmar military and security forces are forcefully cracking down on the country’s mass movement of nonviolent civil disobedience. Without restraint, the military junta is wielding water cannons, tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets, and live ammunition
to brutally attack and arbitrarily detain thousands of people protesters — including hundreds of women exercising their fundamental freedoms. Failing to release these political prisoners, the military and security forces are threatening women protesters with rape and gang rape via social media platforms. Without being held accountable, the military regime is
indiscriminately opening fire on civilians on the streets and in their homes — murdering at least 20 women since its coup. A student to a mother, an ethnic Chinese to a Rohingya, and in their teens to their seventies, these women reveal that this grassroots movement for democracy is diverse, inclusive, and representative of the country’s populace.
”Our families are in fear, we are in fear,” shares Zarni, a Burmese woman migrant domestic worker in Thailand, whose organization is affiliated with the International Domestic Workers Federation, “We, as Burmese, will we be able to go back to our homeland? Will we be able to
meet our families?”
The organizations assert that the Myanmar military junta is acting in violation of the UN Charter, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and other women’s rights and international law and norms.
“The UN Security Council has a clear choice now — to stand with the extraordinary women Peacebuilders of Myanmar as they take on the responsibility to protect civilians under attack from the military,” warns Sanam Naraghi Anderlini MBE, Founder and CEO of International Civil Society Action Network, “or to stay silent and thus complicit in the violence, including rape that is being perpetrated.”
Emphasizing their urgency, the 182 human rights organizations stress the Myanmar military’s history of torturing and killing the country’s ethnic communities — and using sexual violence against their women — with total impunity.
“Given this military’s record of using sexual violence as a weapon of war, we fear that the country’s progress in enhancing the status of women is at risk now more than ever,” state these organizations combating gender-based violence. They refer to the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar’s 2019 report, which found that the Myanmar
military had committed heinous crimes of sexual violence and genocide against the Rohingya during their multiyear “clearance operations.”
Madeleine Rees OBE, Secretary-General of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, asserts: “When the military came for the Rohingya, the international community wrung its collective hands and the Government of Myanmar did nothing. Now the military are
again going after the people. The international community must not repeat its mistakes. Effective action is needed, and it is needed now!”
The organizations also urge the UN Security Council to take action to prevent the Myanmar military regime from committing further mass atrocities against the civilian population.
“The military must know that no one is above the law and everyone must be held accountable to their actions,” shares Naw K’nyaw Paw, the General Secretary of the Karen Women’s Organization, “if no one is held accountable and the institution is not reformed, it is like we
are encouraging them to continue abusing people to commit crimes — the abuses will be repeated again and again.”
Amplifying the people’s call for justice, together, the 182 members of the global women’s rights movement call upon the Security Council: “We are now asking you to take all necessary measures against the Myanmar military, in order to break the cycles of violence and abuse that have gone on for too long.”
❖ Wai Wai Nu, Women’s Peace Network, email@example.com
Hold Myanmar Military Accountable for Violence Against Women
Dear President and Members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council,
Marking the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, we, Women’s Peace Network, and the undersigned organizations working for women’s rights and against gender-based violence, call upon the UN Security Council to hold the Myanmar military accountable for grievously violating the human rights of women. Since the military’s illegitimate seizure of power on February 1, the people of Myanmar have led nationwide mass movements to demand for the November 2020 election results to be respected, the 2008 Constitution to be abolished, a federal democratic union to be built with full equality and self-determination, and those arbitrarily detained and arrested to be released. Despite engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience, thousands of civilians, including women, have been brutally assailed by the regime’s tactics of violent assault, arbitrary detention, and extrajudicial killing. Given this military’s record of using sexual violence as a weapon of war, we fear that the country’s progress in enhancing the status of women is at risk now more than ever. We, members of the global women’s rights movement, now urgently join forces to amplify the people’s calls: the Myanmar military and security forces must be held to account for their brutality, and all impunity fueling their historical violation of women’s rights and international laws and norms must end.
Across Myanmar, the military continue to act in violation of the UN Charter and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. In over a month, the Myanmar military and security forces have indiscriminately fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters — killing at least 20 women. Deploying armored vehicles along the country’s streets, male security forces have targeted women with batons and slingshots all while strategically wielding water cannons, tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets against other peaceful protesters. Throughout states and regions, the regime’s arbitrary detention and arrests of civilians have continued to rise as allegations of sexual assault and abuse across prisons have spread rampantly. If the Security Council and the international community do not take concrete action, we are concerned that the Myanmar military and security forces will continue to commit mass atrocities and act in contravention of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the member states for enforcing targeted measures against the Myanmar military and security forces. The Security Council’s intervention is crucial for ensuring that these measures have their intended effect of putting an end to the military’s arbitrary violence against its own people. Over the past several decades, the military junta has tortured and killed the country’s ethnic minorities to consolidate its power nationwide, and perpetrated sexual and gender-based violence against women as a tactic of repression. As reported by the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar in 2019, countless Rohingya women were subjected to rape, mass gang rape, sexually humiliating acts, sexual slavery, and sexual mutilations during the military’s “clearance operations” — amounting to crimes against humanity and genocide — across 2012, 2016, and 2017. Yet to be held accountable for these atrocities, the military has interpreted the international community’s lack of a unified and comprehensive response as a license to intensify their abusive practices against the country’s most vulnerable. We are now asking you to take all necessary measures against the Myanmar military, in order to break the cycles of violence and abuse that have gone on for too long.
We, the undersigned organizations, urge the UN Security Council to hold the Myanmar military and security forces accountable by adopting a resolution to
- Refer the situation of Myanmar to the International Criminal Court in order hold the Myanmar military and security forces to account, under international law, for committing crimes, including rape and sexual violence.
- Dispatch a monitoring and mediation body to Myanmar in response to the Myanmar military and security forces’ increasing use of violence against peaceful protesters, including women.
- Impose targeted economic sanctions and financial penalties and restrictions on the junta leadership and businesses that are owned and controlled by the Myanmar military.
- Impose a comprehensive and global arms embargo on Myanmar.
We thank you for your leadership and attention to this matter.
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