Campaign Information

WAM (Women Activists Myanmar) ask that you lend your voice in calling for the release of all political prisoners in Myanmar, particularly women human rights defenders, and an end to the use of torture and sexual violence against women by the Myanmar military.

“I’ve always thought that women are constantly the ones making changes. They are bold, they have courage and they speak truth to power. They challenge the military dictatorship and organise people and, by doing so, live to be an example and inspire many around them”

Naw K’nyaw Paw (General Secretary, Karen Women’s Organisation)

Photo Credit to @VP

Current Context

Military rule in Myanmar did not originate with the coup d’état on the 1st February 2021. Myanmar has existed under various forms of military control since 1962.

On the 1st of February, Myanmar’s military-led by General Min Aung Hlaing instigated the most recent bid for power. Unhappy with the results of the November 2020 general elections – in which the National League for Democracy, led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, won a landslide victory – General Min Aung Hlaing ousted the legitimately elected government. Arresting Parliamentarians, starting with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, the Junta proceeded to violently shut down all dissent.

In defiance, across Myanmar, the entire population rose to demand an end to military rule. Popularly referred to as the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), workers across the country went on strike, as millions of civilians took to the streets.

Photo Credit to : Mizzma Media

Impact on Women

As the Myanmar military continues its violent crackdown, over 50 women have been killed and over 800 women have been detained. The military is arbitrarily arresting political leaders, activists, journalists and protestors across the country.

Women are not safe in custody. Torture and sexual violence remain the staple in tools used by the military against women political prisoners in Myanmar. The military has a long history of using sexual violence as a weapon of war, particularly against ethnic minority women.

Photo Credit to : Mizzima Media

Women currently in detention

The military is using a strategy of targeting prominent women leaders:

Thin Thin Aung

Thin Thin Aung was arrested and taken away in Yangon by plainclothes members of the Burmese Army on April 8. She is a founding sister of the WLB, a founder of women for Justice and co-founder of Mizzima News, an independent media organization. Ever since she became involved in the 1988 uprising which forced her to exile, she has been a leading women’s right advocate within the democratization of Myanmar. In 2014, along with the range of organizations and networks focusing on women’s rights, gender justice and the peace process, Thin Thin Aung helped found the Alliance for Gender Inclusion in thePeace Process (AGIPP).

Photo Credit to : Mizzima Media

Myo Myo Aye

Myo Myo Aye, a labour activist and union leader, was forcibly abducted from her office and arrested on April 15. She has been a leading voice against the coup in her role as leader of the Solidarity of Trade Unions in Myanmar. Her advocacy was specifically focused on defending workers’ right, freedom of association and freedom of expression- all arenas in which the Burmese military regularly violates. According to various reports, Myo Myo Aye has been transferred to the notorious Insein prison, in Yangon.

Photo Credit to : Mizzima Media

Tu Tu Tha

Tu Tu Tha, a writer and journalist, is among the 39 journalists arrested and are still in custody. She was detained at her home in Yangon’s Thanlyin township on 24 April with her 18-year-old son and her younger brother. Tu Tu Tha is a former editor at The Irrawaddy’ Burmese Edition. She also worked as the editor in chief of the Thanlyin Post and trained other journalists in her spare time.

Photo Credit to : Mizzima Media

Women are at the forefront of the democracy movement

Women of all ages and all walks of life have put their lives on the line for a free, democratic future – they are speaking truth to power. One of the first protesters to become a martyr for the cause was 19-year-old Angel, whose T-shirt reflected her optimism – it read, “everything will be ok”.

Photo Credit to : Mizzima Media

What can the Australian Government do?

We call on the Australian Government to:

  • Impose targeted sanctions upon additional senior military officials and their associated business entities.
  • Use all diplomatic leverage and influence to ensure:
    • The immediate release of all political prisoners, including women human rights defenders
    • The immediate cessation of the use of torture and sexual violence against women by the military, including those in detention and interrogation centres
  • Encourage the Australian Ambassador to Myanmar to join with other Ambassadors in engaging closely with political prisoner assistance groups and women’s rights organisations.
  • Reallocate Australia’s ODA (Overseas Development Assistance) to Myanmar towards civil society organisations, including diverse women’s rights organisations.

Photo Credit to: Mizzima Media