September 5 2007
Protesting women suffer untold ignominy by junta
Nam Davies Mizzima News
October 6, 2007 Members of Women's League of Burma (WLB) collects signatures during the the 'Democratic Resolution' at the 'Second Peoples' Parliament' held in Maw Phlang of Shillong city, in Northeastern Indian state of Meghalay.
Burma's women activists and supporters celebrate International Women’s Day at Puttasatan Place in Chiang Mai, Thailand on 8 March. Photo: Aye Aye Win/Mizzima
September 5, 2007 - The 70- year old widow, Daw Khin Aye finally made up her mind to join the demonstrations along with young women after suffering unbearable hardships resulting from the mismanaged governance of the Burmese military regime. She and about 20 women walked in a procession from South Dagon Road to 'Thanlan' bus stop peacefully. Of a sudden the South Dagon Township Peace and Development Chairman U Ko Ko Hlaing and government backed USDA members and 'Swan Ah Shin' appeared and began assaulting them. They were arrested.
The official list states about 60 people were arrested in these demonstrations. In fact, the real figure is over 100, according to the 'Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners' (AAPP), of which, 29 are women "Burmese culture has been thrown to the winds. The junta in its arrogance has confined the saying 'paying respect to elders and sympathizing with the young' to the dustbin. They violate their own law at will. The State, which is supposed to safeguard women, assaulted women. It's very painful to see and believe this", said an agitated Phyu Phyu.
"The regime commits crime against women instead of protecting their modesty. They abused us in vulgar language."
When they intervened and arrested peaceful demonstrators, they pushed women on their chest violently and lifted their sarong (skirt) from the bottom, tore apart their blouses, hit and slapped their faces.
"On August 22 in Thamaing junction, though we could disregard the thugs pushing men by their chests, they also pushed us the same way when they stopped us. It was a chaotic scene When they pushed us from the front our people pulled us back. They also pulled us by our hands when they tried to arrest us. They hit me on my neck and I suffered for four days", Ma Ni Ni Mon (38), 88 generation women student leader told Mizzima.
"On August 23 at the Shwegondaing junction traffic lamp, they hit our men on their faces and lifted our sarong (skirt) when they tried to arrest us. We lost our balance and they dragged us away. Our male colleagues rescued us. They dragged the men to their cars with their sarongs coming off. It was an unseemly scene,", Ma Ohmar (39), an NLD member said.
At the end of last month, they arrived with photographs of 88 generation women student leaders Ma Nilar Thein and Ma Mee Mee, human rights defender and promoter Ma Suu Suu Nway from Htan Manaing village and Ma Phyu Phyu Thin at highway bus terminals and hotels as if it were arrest warrants and wanted to scrutinize family lists. On these papers they gave the phone numbers to inform the authorities.
"Now Ma Nilar Thein is on the run and had to leave her four- month old baby at home. Last night, till midnight, she had nowhere to sleep. She said that she fell sick because she was unable to breast feed her baby. On the first day they posted the wanted list with their photographs, there were about 30 to 40 people in front of her house, watching her home. She left her baby in her mother-in-law's house. They waited there to arrest her when she tried to come and pick up her baby. They are combing all the possible hiding places to arrest her", Ma Phyu Phyu Thin said.
The raiding and surveillance parties include not only government backed USDA thugs and Swan Ah Shin members but also military intelligence and Special Branch personnel in mufti.
"We could identify these personnel from the intelligence agencies, though they were in mufti, by their appearance and the clothes they wore. Some even had walkie-talkie sets tucked into their waists", Ma Ni Ni Mon said.
"They used vulgar language and made obscene remarks against us. They said 'Hey who are you?. We know all about you. You create unrest and give interviews to the foreign media and say senseless and meaningless things.' They constantly pulled and pushed us and provoked the men in our group, saying you'd better wear skirts (sarong)", she added.
Then one of them said, "Hey, strike first the people in skirts". They detained all the demonstrators in the interrogation camp at Kyaikasan ground and in Insein prison. They did not provide sanitary napkins to the women during their periods.
"When I was detained in Insein prison in 2000, they didn't provide clothes for four days. We had to take a bath naked. We had no spare clothes to change and no sanitary napkins during our periods. Only when we got prison uniforms, we could tear our sarong (skirt) to use as pads during periods. Sometimes, they visited our wards and cells without giving notice. We had to take care of ourselves for our safety and modesty. It's very difficult to spend 11 and half months in prison in this way", Ma Ohmar said.
Though the government suppressed their movement violently, all the women said they were not upset and their morale was still high . Home
"We are not despairing or are upset though we are being violently suppressed. We can see their anti-women stance by their detention of our sole unarmed democratic icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi by the sheer dint of their armed forces and repressive military power. They don't want to see women in top posts and in power", Ma Ni Ni Mon said.
"We cannot say when the spate of demonstrations will stop. We joined this demonstration voluntarily and individually to oppose the junta's unjust move. For the time being, what we can only do is to wear double blouses fastened by pins and hooks. And we can wear quarter pants too. We can also find other ways to cope with their violent treatment against us", NLD member Ma Ohmar said.