Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, June 23, 2008

Activist calls on U.N. to help fellow Burmese women

Nilar Thein, a leading Burmese human rights activist, recently wrote an op-ed for the Bangkok newspaper The Nation. In it, she describes the personal trauma she has endured since August 21, 2007, when junta authorities seized her husband, a prominent dissident.

Other members of the 88 Generation Students activist group her husband leads were also taken from their homes in the raids. Fearing the same fate, Thein decided to flee, asking her parents to care for her then three-month-old daughter so as not to put her at risk.

Now, still on the run, Nilar writes of the inspirational “strength and determination” of detained Burmese Nobel laureate and human rights activist Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. She also calls attention to a U.N. Security Council resolution on women, peace and security. The resolution was debated on the day Thein’s op-ed was published, and she urges world leaders to use the opportunity of the debate to take “urgent action…to help the women in Burma.”

Burma, Thein writes, is mired in both a civil war – with the military fighting ethnic minority resistance forces – and a war “against its own unarmed citizens, who are calling freedom, justice and democracy.” In the former, Thein notes that innocent women have been murdered, raped, and forced to be “sex slaves.” In the latter, “women activists are beaten, arrested, tortured and then put in prison for many years,” she writes, adding that the ravages of Cyclone Nargis and subsequent government neglect have left 35,000 pregnant women “at extreme risk of death.”

For the full op-ed, click here.


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