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Kachin women mark UN peace day with prayers

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Ethnic Kachin women marked the United Nations’ International Day of Peace today with prayers and talks on peace against a backdrop of looming war in Kachin State, and to show their opposition to armed conflict.

“Our young Kachin women do not want war. Currently, war is looming in our state. We don’t want oppression or bullying against us,” a female organiser of the ceremony said.

wlb-international-peace-day-sThe organiser was among more than 20 young women who a held a prayer meeting and discussions on peace in the state capital of Myitkyina. Similarly more than 30 people attended a peace meeting held in Momauk Township in the east of the northern state.

She told how the organisers had to gather participants in secrecy as the junta has the ethnic group under close scrutiny. “We first called one friend and then we asked this friend to call more of her friends … We don’t know all of those who came to this ceremony.”
Tension is growing between the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the Burmese military junta after the KIO refused Naypyidaw’s offer of bringing KIO troops under Burmese Army command within its Border Guard Force (BGF).

Junta pressure is increasing to breaking point on the main ethnic group in the state, with trade embargoes, troop build-ups and travel bans. Sources said the KIO had been forced to close its gold mines and was moving its base further north from Laiza.

Some Kachin had already fled across the border to China and the tension was also affecting trade. A bag of rice had increased 60 per cent in some markets as a result of a Northern Command ban on trading in rice and fuel.

Meanwhile in Rangoon Division, young women reported that they had also held prayer meetings on peace and group discussions with close friends.

About 30 women, including women from army families, from an underground network, “A speck of sand and a band of friends”, distributed postcards at Wireless market, Mingaladon market, Htaukkyant market and on Hledan Zay Yar Thiri street, a member of the group contacted by Mizzima said.

“My spouse is an army officer. I am encouraged to see the women of this network actively participating in social and political work and that they would like to invite Tatmadaw [armed forces] to join the peace process. That’s why I joined this movement,” she told Mizzima.

About 2,000 copies of four postcards were distributed. The cards bear the peacock flag, the international peace movement symbol of the dove and lines saying: “Military join hands with the people”, “Let’s defeat military dictatorship’”, and a poem titled, An Ode to a Young Female Peacock, dedicated to Win Maw Oo, who was shot dead in the 1988 mass uprising.

The UN General Assembly of 1981 passed the resolution to observe “World Peace Day” on the third Tuesday of every September. Later it was changed to September 21 and since, ceremonies have been held and ceasefires observed on that date across the world.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also urged young people across the world to work for peace and dedicated the day to them under the theme “Peace, Youth and Development”.

Twenty-two young women from North Okkalapa Township in Rangoon also held a prayer meeting at a friend’s home by lighting candles with the goal of building genuine peace by joining the hands of military personnel and the public. They also reportedly distributed 500 copies of postcards bearing a picture of flying dove with the caption, “Let’s oppose the 2010 election to achieve genuine peace”, at the Sule Pagoda, and Kyauktada, North Okkalapa, Hlaingthayar, Shwepaukkan and Thaketa townships.

The spokeswoman of the group said: “We said prayers for peace and questioned whether casting our votes would bear fruit. We held today’s prayer meeting at our friend’s home as a birthday party.”

The National League for Democracy (NLD) party reportedly marked the day by releasing five doves in a ceremony attended by party vice-chairman Tin Oo, central executive committee member Win Tin and youth members of the party.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 September 2010 00:17 )  

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