Partners for Peace
For Partners Asia, peace is a tangible quest — a goal that has legs, hands, and hearts behind it on the ground in Myanmar. Supporting emerging peace networks is one of our centerpiece campaigns for 2015, as the country’s critical elections near.
Why peace, among so many other urgent needs? Because alongside the country’s new openness is a darker story. Myanmar is witnessing inter-ethnic violence and continued fighting in minority areas. Skirmishes have displaced more than 470,000 people in Rakhine and Kachin State and along the border area with Thailand. Sectarian violence against the Muslim minorities has been increasing.
As the elections slated for late 2015 approach, a massive effort is needed to ensure that violence does not escalate.
These events have led Partners Asia to join a growing network of groups working for peace and religious and ethnic tolerance. These peace networks use a variety of means, including peace and leadership training for youth and well-publicized talks by famous writers, monks, and artists that are recorded and spread widely. Monks beginning to doubt the message of hatred and intolerance have been selected to travel on exposure trips in the region to enhance their commitment to peace. Innovative, energetic educators are working hard to push back against the rising tide.
The window of opportunity to make this happen is now. The support of grassroots peace organizations in Myanmar is how.
Partners Asia is uniquely positioned to do this work because of our extensive history and partnerships. We invite you to join this quest for peace, in Myanmar and all the earth.
Power to the PeaceMakers – Myanmar 2015 flyer available here
Inclusive Development – Partners Asia’s Response to Racism in Myanmar
Partners Asia believes that a key part of the process of building a democratic society in a fractured country is building trust and confidence among and between communities of different ethnic and religious identities.
Since 2011, in direct response to the political liberalization, Myanmar has witnessed horrific inter-ethnic violence and continued fighting in minority areas, which has resulted in more than 470,000 internally displaced people in Rakhine and Kachin State and along the border area with Thailand.
The violence has been worst in Rakhine State, where some 140,000 Rohingya Muslims were displaced following fatal violence in 2012. Those remaining in Myanmar have been living in camps since then, isolated from ethnic Rakhine families whose homes were also razed during the violence. In addition, an estimated 200,000 – 500,000 Rohingya also live in Bangladesh, and of these 34,000 are in refugee camps established in 1992 when over 270,000 Rohingya fled violence initiated by the army in Rakhine State.
In recent years, Partners Asia has given assistance to an education NGO working with the displaced Rohingya in Bangladesh, and emergency relief to Rakhine and Mro/Khami communities in Rakhine State. We have also sought ways to support a nascent peace movement in Rakhine State, though the militant racism of some Rakhine groups makes this work very difficult and dangerous1.
Beyond Rakhine State, we aim to help build a more tolerant society in Myanmar, based on the Buddhist principle of metta. In this regard, Partners Asia has joined a growing network of groups working for peace and religious and ethnic tolerance.
The peace networks use a variety of means, and we have funded groups in each of these areas: the Panzagar ‘flower speech’ movement; peace and leadership training for youth; well-publicized talks by famous writers, monks, and artists that are recorded and spread widely to home-based discussion groups and larger public meetings. More recently, since the draft laws on inter-faith marriage and religious conversion have been released, Partners Asia has also funded women’s organizations and others seeking to ensure that these laws are not approved in Parliament. Monks beginning to doubt the message of hatred and intolerance have been selected to travel on exposure trips in the region to enhance their commitment to peace, and innovative, energetic educators are working hard to push back against the rising tide.
As the 2015 elections approach, and the wave of violence gains magnitude, Partners Asia will actively support the peace networks as needs arise and opportunities to engage unfold.
1For example, on 24 November, 5,000 people in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, marched in protest at the UN Secretary General’s use of the word “Rohingya”. Thousands march against UN in Sittwe (video)
Myanmar: Parliament must reject discriminatory ‘race and religion’ laws
Joint statement by Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists
Myanmar’s Parliament must reject or extensively revise four draft laws addressing “race and religion” that are currently under its consideration, said Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). These draft laws are discriminatory and could result in violations of a number of human rights, . . read the full joint statement here