By NJ Thakuria, Guwahati:
The Women’s League of Burma (WLB) argues that only an inclusive ceasefire agreement with all the armed outfits of Myanmar (formerly Burma) can bring sustainable peace in the country, which is marching for a full-fledged democracy after decades of military dictatorship.
Expressing grave concern over that the Naypyidaw based Myanmar government’s decision to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) on October 15 comprising only eight armed groups, the WLB asserted that it would ‘not lead to peace, but to an escalation of conflict’.
“In the past week, even after the announcement of the signing, Naypyidaw has sent in massive troop reinforcements and launched new offensives in Kachin and northern Shan State, with serious human rights abuses inflicted on civilians. This has led to fresh displacement, adding to the over 200,000 already displaced in northern Burma,” said a WLB statement.
Camps for internally displaced in northern Burma are already facing critical humanitarian shortages due to Naypyidaw’s restrictions on access, and funding cuts from international donors. New displacement is placing further burdens on the camps, with women and children bearing the brunt of the hardship, it added.
The WLB fears that the said agreement (NCA) signing will lead to further funding cuts for displaced populations throughout the country and possibly forced return, said WLB spokesperson Naw Wahkushee adding, “We do not trust Naypyidaw’s peace process.
It’s clearly just a game to divide the ethnic groups, while continuing to attack them.”
The WLB is also concerned at Naypyidaw’s failure to ensure women’s participation in the peace process. Ethnic armed groups agreed at the Lawkheelar summit last June to amend the NCA text to guarantee a quota of at least 30% women in future political dialogue. However, Napyidaw has refused to amend the text, which states that only an appropriate proportion of women take part in political dialogue.
Finally with an aim to build genuine peace, the WLB urges international donors to stop prioritizing their relations with Naypyidaw over the interest of women & children in ethnic conflict zones. Donors should review their unconditional support for Naypyidaw’s peace process and start exerting pressure on the regime to immediately end its military offensives and systematic abuses and begin troop withdrawal from the ethnic areas as a prelude to political dialogue.