Young Women Pray for Peace in Shan State

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While our Young Women’s Leadership Training goes on, so does the violence and conflict in Shan State continue. Recent attacks during May 2016 by the Burma Army have broken a ceasefire and have amounted to war crimes according to some critics. May’s violence in Shan State has left numerous dead and many traumatised by torture, bombing and being used as human shields. On the 21st of May, the youth in SWAN’s Young Women’s Leadership Training decided to hold a vigil for the victims, to send thoughts and prayers to the survivors and to manifest peace. Their training continues despite the unrest in their home state and they will hold more vigils if the attacks do not end.

The Burma Army has pushed further into territory in northern Shan State since the beginning of 2016, causing thousands more people to become internally displaced, and many fleeing over the border into China. Reports show that Burma Army soldiers have launched sustained attacks on civilians in the area, with local villages reporting widespread use of torture, rape, forced labour and unwarranted arrests.linkout These attacks come on the back of multiple Burma army attacks on villages in central Shan State at the end of 2015, which sent thousands fleeing to temporary IDP camps and across the Thai-Burma border. SWAN continues to assist some of these newly arrived IDPs through its crisis support centre located in Fang District, near the border.

To read more detailed and timely updates on fighting in Shan State, visit the website of the Shan Human Rights Organisation, www.shanhumanrights.org

Leadership, empowerment of women central to Asia-Pacific forum

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The forum was funded by the government of the Netherlands.

Dozens of women from across the Asia-Pacific region are in Melbourne this week for high-level meetings to find out how Victoria deals with domestic violence and other issues affecting women.

The week-long Women's Action for Voice and Empowerment (WAVE) forum is hosting women from Cambodia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, East Timor and elsewhere, paid for by a $22 million grant from the government of the Netherlands.

Open letter to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi regarding plans by Norway’s SN Power to build the Middle Yeywa Dam on the Namtu River

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To: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor and Foreign Minister, Naypyidaw

SN Power Middle Yeywa Project Page 022

On March 30, 2016, we published a report “Save the Namtu River” raising concerns about four planned dams on the Namtu/Myitnge River, including the 700 MW Middle Yeywa dam, planned by Norway’s state- owned SN Power in Nawng Khio township of northern Shan State.

Since publishing our report, we have obtained a promotional document summarizing SN Power’s pre- feasibility study for the Middle Yeywa dam, completed in June 2015 (see attached). SN Power is currently undertaking a feasibility study for the dam under an agreement with the former Ministry of Electric Power.

Download full letter | project presentation images

Sexual violence by Burmese government troops continues despite ceasefires in Shan State

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The Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) has documented eight cases of sexual violence committed by Burmese government troops in southern and eastern Shan State since April 2015, all in so-called “ceasefire” areas. These cases reveal continuing patterns of impunity, and highlight that ongoing militarization and offensives by the Burma Army despite ceasefires are a key factor threatening women’s security in ethnic areas.

sexual violence map 2015 Eng

The most recent crime took place on November 5, 2015, near a village in Ke See township. A 32-year-old woman was gang-raped by about 10 soldiers while her husband was tied up under their farm hut. This took place during the current offensive by the Burma Army against the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N). Despite an existing bilateral ceasefire, the government has since last month deployed 20 battalions, heavy artillery, and fighter aircraft to seize SSPP/SSA-N areas, committing abuses against civilians and causing displacement of over 10,000 villagers.

To our international friends and supporters,

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23 November 2015

We wish to alert you to recent events in Shan State, Eastern Burma, which have left more than 10,000 people displaced and many killed and injured.

Whilst the world is distracted by election results in Burma, the Burma Army has launched a massive offensive in Central Shan State. Fighting has also escalated in Kachin State and Palaung area of Northern Shan State. The Shan Women’s Action Network strongly condemns the attacks, which have left thousands without food and shelter.

Map of Fighting Area

SWAN’s Charm Tong recently spoke to the media about the attacks: “The fighting is escalating, with the Burma Army indiscriminately shelling and shooting civilian homes, temples and temporary IDP [internally displaced person] camps. The situation has terrorized the local communities”, she told the Irrawaddy.

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