Soe Htike Aung
We interviewed with Maw ParehMyar, the Secretary-2 of Karenni Women Organization, about the current situation of women participation in politics and peace process in Kayah State.
Ques – How do you see peace process in Kayah (Karenni) State?
Ans – If we look at our state’s peace situation, the people from other state would say our state is peaceful. In our state, however, there is always the occasion of the state, public, and military collision. This often occurs. Another thing is that our state is independent state. Along with ongoing peace process, however, we have seen the military side has poor implementation and violation to state level agreed rules and poor comprise in peace negotiation with ethnic armed group especially (KNPP). By looking at those things, we don’t know whether they really want peace or how they want to be. This is my point of view.
Ques – As for you, how do you want to suggest on peace process of Kayah State?
Ans – We have been suffered for human rights’ violation due to the dictatorship for seventy years. If we look from our women side, women and children are often violated most whenever there is a war, or something happened. After (2014), therefore, we voted to civilian government and (NLD) party in order to not happen like this again. For civilian government, we chose them because we expected they are the government who apply real democracy. Within (5) years, however, there is no change compared with the past, and it is still the same. Therefore, we expect the next government to be the government who represent for public. I want them to listen citizen’s voice and I also want every ethnic minorities to participate.
Ques – What violation of human rights do you see in Kayah (Karenni) State?
Ans – There are a lot. For instance, human rights violation to farmers, oppression to youths, it is all about human rights violation. One more thing, there are many violations of human rights to women and children if we look from women side. If we look at the cases of authorities’ commits, there are challenges for fair and justice although it was done in legal way. If so, there are still violation in our Kayah State regarding to human rights.
Ques – In what way are women encountering with the lose their rights?
Ans – So many. There is, for instance, a widow in farmer issue. She has to take all responsible of her child’s healthcare and education as she is widow. Her child is gradually losing the rights of healthcare and education as she is currently in jail. Besides, the child is losing a lot to his/her citizen rights. Another issue is we women are in a situation to asking for rights to participation in every occurrence (For example – politics, social, or economics). In fact, we are not required to ask like this in very situation.The government have signed (the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) and could not comply practically. Instead of it, they even disturb to the activities of (CSO) like Women Organizations such as activity prohibition, no meeting, or no meeting with public; those are the intentionally oppressions. I could say it is the restriction of individual rights.
Ques – Is there any occasion the government accede to foster women participation in peace process? What support have they provide for women?
Ans – We annually meet with the public from (7) different townships related to peace. We often ask them personally the questions; in what range are they participating and what are the challenges when participating. We collected the data of their challenges and voice, then we report to the related Hluttaw. What we could assume is that, if we look at their attention or whether they listen to our collected data and voice, their attention to public voice is still weak because they are hindering every training women are giving; the training to present about current situation in state. What I want to mean is it is same as poor encouragement on women participation in peace process.
Ques – What support is your organization providing regarding to peace in rural areas?
Ans – We have. We have every year according to its level. For instance, there are active women in villages while some are involved in party. Those kinds of women could improve their original skills. We often provide them capacity development training with the intention of promoting their skills which would serve for their community and women. Besides, we always conduct the workshops of sharing the update information of peace in our state and our comments in the discussions.
Ques – Does the government allow when you conduct the training? Or is there any obstruction of rights to do?
Ans – Of course, now they stipulated the policy to our organization to report them the permission letter whether you do one day or half day meeting or training. In fact, if we look at the constitution it is said the organization can do registration, and it does not say the organization will be taken action or arrest if not register. Although it is said like this, they force to report and register officially as an organization. And they said you could implement your planned activities only if you officially report for permission letter.
Ques – Currently we see your organization is carrying out the peace dialogues. From this, could you tell us the situation of women participation?
Ans – They understand more about the prevention for women and children, and they request to give more. Another thing is, in peace talk, they understand more about the barriers of women participation, the strategy to overcome those barriers, and any special movement to do as they are not equal with men. One more positive outcome is they become willing to participate because they could not equip with outside activities as their lives end up in kitchen, staying at home and caring baby, and going to farm. Now they have open-minded, join every activity and participate actively in the discussion.
Ques – Do you think Kayah (Karenni) State is now in peace or not, how do you see?
Ans – In my opinion, I think the people who said our state is now in peace are the ones who are not the indigenous people of Kayah State because I can give (2) examples. The first one is no one can govern or command to our state as our state is independent state. The second point is the military government violate the rule and have poor implementation in NCA, which the military, KNPP, and government have signed to state level. Besides, they neglect the public’s demand and needs, and they just focus on what they want to do whether or not the public agree. By looking at these problems, I could say our state have no peace at all.
Ques – What do you want to add regarding to the peace of the state?
Ans – What I want to add is we expect only the government who govern the state with real democracy and federal union, which the people are asking for, whatever it is the new government, present government, bypass government, or any government. I also want the new government to be the one who is elected by indigenous people. What I want to suggest to the public is give vote only to the candidate who represents for indigenous people.