Rising voice for women activists of Burma

By NJ Thakuria

Naw-Ohn

Guwahati: The Women’s Initiative Network for Peace (Win-Peace) has expressed serious concern at the continued imprisonment of hundreds of political prisoners including women activists in various Burmese jails and urged the reform savvy from President Thein Sein to take necessary initiative to release them at the earliest.

The Win-Peace asserted that the authority maintains its repressive laws followed by more arrests and hence appealed to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission to take serious note on the situation.

In a recent statement, the women’s body called for the immediate release of Naw Ohn Hla with other women activists of Monywa and asked for ending the judicial harassment to the women activists across the country. The Win-Peace also called upon the international community to take possible actions assisting these women activists, such that they can continue their mission against rights violation in Burma.

Mentionable is that the leading woman activist Naw Ohn Hla and nine other women activists were arrested following a peaceful protest in Rangoon against the Letpadaung copper mine in Monywa of Sagaing Region on 13 August last.

“Naw Ohn Hla, a former member of National League for Democracy with nearly 50 other villagers gathered in Monywa to call for the suspension of the controversial China backed Letpadaung copper mine and to amend the 2008 Burmese Constitution. After a tense stand-off, the police personnel in several hundreds who were surrounding the agitators, moved in to arrest Naw Ohn Hla and others pulling them into the back of police trucks.  Naw Ohn Hla was seized so violently that her clothing was partially pulled off,” said the statement.

Later Naw Ohn Hla was accused of disturbing public tranquility under Section 505(b) of the Myanmar Penal Code and sentenced to two years in prison with hard labor.  She and other activists are currently being held in Monywa no 1 police station.  Over 60 villagers staged a demonstration next to the police station protesting their arrests.

The Win-Peace also called for an end to the judicial harassment of women activists around Burma (Myanmar), including Daw Khin Mi Mi Khaing, head of the women’s right organization Wimutti Volunteer Group (a member of the Women Organization Network) and Daw Myint Myint Aye, head of the organization Mettila social support team (a member of WIN-Peace).

“We are seeing a series of instances of judicial harassment and violence against women human rights defenders and peaceful protestors
all around Myanmar, which is very disappointing and disheartening,” commented Susanna Hla Hla Soe, head of Women Organization Network of Myanmar adding, “It is vital that women play a front line role in defending the rights of their communities, and the Myanmar authoritiesmust allow them the space to do so.”