Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

Breaking the Silence

Vendors, Burma (

Vendors, Burma (Donna Cymek/Flickr)

F. CONCLUSION

This report has explored some of the root causes of poverty and environment destruction in Burma, which are intersectional, and the connection between state policies and human rights violations in the name of development, particular problems faced by women due to their gender and how women are trying to enable themselves, their family and their communities to survive.

It is clear that the military regime's policies are directly responsible for poverty and systematic environmental destruction in Burma. Until there is radical political reform, and restoration of the rule of law, impoverishment and widespread environmental abuse will continue, and people inside Burma will not be able to escape from this vicious cycle of suffering.

Recommendations to the SPDC

  1. A moratorium on current logging should be imposed and maintained until a complete and thorough survey and participatory analysis of the remaining forest resources of the land has been carried out to determine which areas need urgent protection or restoration and those areas which can be sustainably used. The survey data must be made accessible to the peoples' organisations
  2. Logged and degraded areas should be reforested, biologically enriched and helped to regenerate without the use of forced labour or extortion.
  3. Concessionary rights for logging and mining should not be granted without the informed approval and willing participation of the local communities affected by exploitation of the natural resources.
  4. Women, local communities and states should fairly benefit from any exploitation of resources from their surrounding environment.
  5. Laws requiring logging and mining enterprises to abide by environmental safeguards should be implemented and enforced. Women, children and other members of local communities must not be left with long term and health endangering problems of pollution and irreparable environmental degradation.
  6. Local people's customary rights to the land and resources of the land should be recognized, respected and inalienable.
  7. In cases where land is needed for appropriate development projects, adequate and timely consultation with affected communities should be carried out, and fair compensation, sufficient time for relocation and viable options for environmentally-sound alternative livelihoods must be provided.
  8. Farmers should be given the right and responsibility to manage the land in ways that maintain its long-term fertility and productivity.
  9. Fair rice taxes should be implemented. Taxation policy should be reviewed and should take into account the season's actual harvest, and in no case should taxes be so heavy that people are unable to feed their families.
  10. The national and state constitutions should include the rights of women and their families to a healthy environment that supports life.

Acknowledgments

Penning acknowledgments is another occasion where the security predicament of the bravely outspoken people in our communities and fellow activists from Burma is brought to mind with melancholic reflection. The most important contributors to the production of this report cannot be thanked personally in public under the current political conditions in and around Burma. Of course this report is part of our continued struggle to work towards the day when their names can be proudly printed with assured safety. They know who they are and we thank them wholeheartedly.

The guidance and advice of our long time committed friend, environmental and human rights activist, "Green" Steve Thompson, has been invaluable to the approach and structure of this report. We likewise extend our deepest thanks to EDesk of Images Asia, and the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN), who shared information necessary to the report's content.

Sarah Butzine, Laura Newland, Chong Ten Yeen, Mary O'Kane, Nang Lao Liang Won, and Pippa Curwen have been critical to the writing of the report in English language. The long hours they have contributed in assisting with the compiling, writing and editing of the report indicate their commitment to the women of Burma. We are extremely thankful for their efforts and support.

We are deeply grateful to the Burma Relief Centre who provided the funding for the report and their ongoing foundational support for the women of Burma.

The Women's League of Burma will continue to work for political change, environmental sustainability and the empowerment of women in Burma - the three axes of positive, sustainable development articulated in the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action. Endnotes

1. More comprehensive details in " The WLB's CEDAW shadow report, January 2000.

2. United Nations Population Fund ( UNFPA) Documents: DP/FPA/MMR ( July 13, 2001).

3. For details, please see "Alternative Perspectives, other voices: Assessing Gender Equality in Burma", A 1999 report of Images Asia for the submission to the 23rd Session of the Committee of the Convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

4. In 1988 there were approximately 175,000 and update there are over 400,000.

5. The Junta spends more than six times more on maintaining and expanding the military than on education and health combined. (Source: 1998 United Nations Development Programme Human Development Report, New York : United Nations Development Programme, 1998).

6. The Dispossessed: A 1998 report of the Shan Human Rights Foundation.

7. Interview, file with WLB (January, 2002).

8. Recent data from FAO suggested that Burma's annual rate of deforestation was at 1.4 percent, over the period of 1990 to 1995, double the rate of 1973-85 estimated in early studies.

9. The Irrawaddy Magazine, Vol.9 NO.8 October-November 2001, Page 15, "The War on Kachin Forests."

10. Interview, on file with WLB (January, 2002).

11. According to MTE figures, Myanmar( Burma): Teak production in 1970s was 400,000 tons, and since 1997-98 fiscal year, it has been 200,000 tons (Source: Xihua News Agency , January 10, 2002).

12. In the fiscal year 2000-01, Burma's (Myanmar) forestry sector earned about 280 million U.S. dollars through timber export, of which the state sector accounted for 200 million, while the rest went to the private sector. (Source: Xihua News Agency , January 10, 2002).

13. See Appendix IV for Location of small & large scale mines in Burma (Source: Grave Diggers: A 2000 report on mining in Burma by Roger Moody).

14. Grave Diggers: A 2000 report on mining in Burma by Roger Moody.

15. Extract from Appendix II: Stripping Rubyland, Grave Diggers: A 2000 report on mining in Burma by Roger Moody, page 59.

16. For details, please see Total Denial, 1996 & Total Denial Continues, 2000.

17. Profits from the export of rice remains the biggest legal moneymaker for the military SPDC. In 2000, Burma exported 64.9 million tonnes of rice worth 120.4 million dollars. (Source: Asia 2002 Yearbook, Far Eastern Economic Review, Burma).

18. United Nation Economic and Social Council Document. No: E/CN. 4/2001/140 (21 March 2001).

19. The budget for agriculture and forestry was 14 % while that of defense was 32% of State annual revenue. (Source: 1998 United Nations Development Programme Human Development Report, New York : United Nations Development Programme, 1998).

20. For comprehensive details, see Warr, Peter G., The Failure of Myanmar's Agricultural Policies, in Southeast Asian Affairs 2000, ISEAS, Singapore, 2000.

21. Interview, on file with WLB (January, 2002).

22. For details, see Voice of the Hungry Nation: A report by the People's Tribunal on Food Scarcity and Militarization in Burma, published by Asia Human Rights Commission( AHRC), October 1999.

23. For details, see Voice of the Hungry Nation: A report by the People's Tribunal on Food Scarcity and Militarization in Burma, published by Asia Human Rights Commission( AHRC), October 1999.

24. The SPDC has claimed that land holdings are granted to the private companies, and 1.1million acres are held by the private sector. (Source: United Nation Economic and Social Council Document. No:E/CN. 4/2001/140, 21 March 2001).

25. For details, see Warr, Peter G., The Failure of Myanmar's Agricultural Policies, in Southeast Asian Affairs 2000, ISEAS, Singapore, 2000.

26. The Committee of the Development of the Border and Ethnic Areas was formed on May 25, 1989 and the Law was passed on August 13, 1993. (Source: Historic Records of Endeavors made by The State Law and Order Restoration Council, "Nation-Building Endeavours: Taing Gyo Pyi Phyu ", Vol 3, 1999).

27. Note Verbal dated 9 March 2001 from the Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva addressed to the secretariat of the Commission on Human Rights, Page 8 (Source: United Nation Economic and Social Council Document. No: E/CN. 4/2001/140, 21 March 2001).

28. Interview, on file with WLB (January, 2002).

29. Interview, on file with WLB ( January, 2002).

30. For further information, please see "Salween Watch".

31. See details in the report: "From Scorched Earth to Flooded Earth: The Generals' Dam on Burma's Salween River" a Salween Watch submission to the World Commission of Dam, March 2000).

32. Burmese Migrant Women in Thailand by Nang Lao Liang Won, published by APWLD (Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, 1999).

33. Interview, on file with WLB (January, 2002).

34. United Nations Population Fund ( UNFPA) Documents: DP/FPA/MMR ( July 13, 2001).

35. Interview, on file with WLB (January, 2002).

36. Burma signed the Convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1997.

37. United Nations Population Fund ( UNFPA) Documents: DP/FPA/MMR ( July 13, 2001).

38. At present, there are over four hundred garment factories, employing around 300,000 people. Most of them are women. (Source: Drug or dud?: The Irrawaddy Magazine,Vol.9. No. 3, March 2001).

40. For details, see School of Rape by Betsy Apple

41. For details, see A modern form of Slavery: Trafficking Burmese Women and girls into brothels in Thailand by Human Rights Watch, 1993.

42. The WLB's Shadow report, submitted to the 23rd Session of the Committee of the Convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women in January, 2000.

43. Extract from Mae Tao Clinic 2001 Annual Report (with permission).

44. Extract from the 2001 Six month Report of the Backpack Health Worker Team( with permission).

45. Interview with Nang Charmtong, the founder of SSSNY.

46. Telephone interview with Anna, the Coordinator of EMPOWER (Maesai).

47. See Appendix I, Page 20 for WLB's 11 member organizations.


Appendix I: The member organizations of the Women's League of Burma

All Burma Democratic Lushai Women's Organization (ABDLWO)
Burmese Women's Union (BWU)
Chin Women's Organization (CWO)
Kachin Women's Association/Thailand (KWAT)
Karen Women's Organization (KWO)
Lahu Women's Organization (LWO)
Pa-O Women's Union (PWU)
Rakhine Women's Union (RWU)
Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN)
Tavoy Women's Union (TWU)
Women's Rights and Welfare Association of Burma (WRWAB)


Appendix II: Contact information of the WLB Secretariat & member organizations

The Secretariat of the Women's League of Burma (WLB)
P.O Box 413, G P O
Chiangmai 50000 Thailand
Tel: + 66 53 251 937, Fax: + 66 53 872 081
Email: [email protected]

All Burma Democratic Lushai Women's Organization (ABDLWO)
A-5A/40, Second Floor
Janupurt, Janta Quarter
New Delhi, India
Tel: + 91 11 5511076
Fax: + 91 11 5508027
Email: [email protected]

Burmese Women's Union (BWU)
P.O.Box 52, Maehongson
58000 Thailand
Tel/Fax: +66 53 612948
Email: [email protected]

Chin Women's Organization (CWO)
A!/A-17, Chanakya Place
Janapuri , New Dehli/ 59 India
Tel: + 91 11 5624112
Email: [email protected]

Kachin Women Association, Thailand
P.O.Box 415, G P O
Chiangmai 50000 Thailand
Tel/Fax: +66 53 243363
Email: [email protected]

Karen Women's Organization
P.O. Box 30 Mae Sariang
58110 Thailand
Tel/Fax: 66 53 621 230
Email: [email protected]

Lahu Women's Organization
P O Box 149, Mae Ping Post Office
Chiangmai 50301 Thailand
Tel/ Fax: + 66 53 242 601
Email: [email protected]

Pa-O Women's Union
P.O. Box 56, Maehongson
58000 Thailand
Tel/Fax: 66 53 613 246
Email: [email protected]

Rakhine Women's Union (RWU)
2/21 Pallabi, Mirpur
Dhaka 1216 Bangladesh
Tel/Fax: +88 2 900 0993
Email: [email protected]

Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN)
P.O.Box 120, Prasingha Post Office
Chiang Mai 50200 Thailand
Tel/Fax: 66 53 252 450
Email: [email protected]

Tavoy Women's Union
P.O. Box 18, Sankhlaburi P.O
Kanchanaburi 71240 Thailand
Tel/Fax: + 66 34 595 208
Email:[email protected]

Women's Rights and Welfare Association of Burma (WRWAB)
163, SFS, Vansant Enclave
New Dehli 110057 India
Tel: + 91 11 552 98 17, Fax: + 91 11 6141386
Email: [email protected]


Appendix III: Contact details for further information on environment in Burma

Karen Environmental and Social Action Network ( KESAN)
P O Box 204, Prasingha Post Office
Chiang Mai 50200 Thailand
Tel: + 66 1 7247093
Email: [email protected]

Karenni Ever Green (KEG)
P O Box 78, Mae Hong Son
58000 Thailand
Tel + 66 53 613 246
Email: [email protected]

EDesk, Images Asia
P.O.Box 2, Prasingha Post Office
Chiang Mai 50200 Thailand
Tel: +66 53 406 155
Email: [email protected]
www.imagesasia.org

Shan Sapawa Environment Organization (SSEO)
P O Box 257, Prasingha Post Office
Chiang Mai 50200 Thailand
Tel: +66 53 279 127
Email: [email protected]

Earthrights International (ERI)
P O Box 123, Chiangmai University
Chiangmai 50202 Thailand
Tel/Fax: + 66 53 211 768
Email: tyler@earthrights.org
www.earthrights.org

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Asian Human Rights Commission, "Voice of a Hungry Nation", October 1999

Far Eastern Economic Review, "Asia Yearbook: Far Eastern Economic Review, Burma", 2002

BurmaNet News

Backpack Health Worker Project, "Six month Report of the Backpack Health Worker Team", 2001

Earthrights International, "Total Denial Continues", 2000

Historic Records of Endeavors made by The State Law and Order Restoration Council, 1999. "Nation-Building Endeavours: Taing Gyo Pyi Phyu ", Vol 3, 1999

Images Asia, "Alternative Perspectives. Other Voices: Assessing Gender Equality in Burma", December 1999.

Irrawaddy Magazine, "The War on Kachin Forests", Vol.9 NO.8 October-November 2001, Page 15

Irrawaddy Magazine, "Drug or dud?", Vol.9. No. 3, March 2001.

Mae Tao Clinic," Annual Report", 2001

Nang Lao Liang Won , "Burmese Migrant Women in Thailand ", Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), 1999

Roger Moody, "Grave Diggers: Mining in Burma", 2000

Salween Watch, "From Scorched Earth to Flooded Earth: The Generals' Dam on Burma's Salween River", a Salweenwatch submission to the World Commission of Dam, March 2000

Shan Human Rights Foundation, " The Dispossessed", April 1998

United Nation Economic and Social Council, Information Sheet. No: E/CN. 4/2001/140, 21 March 2001 United Nations Population Fund ( UNFPA) Information Sheet: DP/FPA/MMR , July 13, 2001

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), "United Nations Development Programme Human Development Report", New York;, 1998

Warr, Peter G., "The Failure of Myanmar's Agricultural Policies", Southeast Asian Affairs 2000, ISEAS, Singapore, 2000