April, May and June have unleashed a firestorm of media coverage for our grantees in Asia. Check out this roundup of the most significant stories:
For the first time ever, our Burma grantees garnered tremendous media coverage in major outlets around the world. But what’s so significant about this coverage? Our grantees are speaking and the world is listening. More than ever before, our grantees are being tapped by policy makers and journalists for their on-the-ground experience and their decades-long work on documenting human rights abuses. Though our grantees are excited about the changes happening in the country, they are quick to remind the international community that human rights abuses abound and there is still tremendous work to be done. Here are a few of the stories:
- Khin Ohmar of Burma Partnership, a network of organizations that promote democracy and empower ethnic rights movements to bring about social and political change in the country, wrote a piece for The Wall Street Journal titled “Curb Your Burma Enthusiasm: economic development without political protections will damage the fragile human rights situation.”
- The Bangkok Post wrote a piece about the underbelly of an “open” Burma, highlighting that though cosmetic political changes have been made, activists are drawing attention to the stream of constant, brutal abuse committed by Burmese authorities against ethnic minorities and political prisoners. The first part of the article is told from the perspective of Moon Lay Ni, coordinator of Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT). Formed in 1999, KWAT works with vulnerable refugees and migrant workers from Kachin state in Thailand and Burma to provide leadership training and educational programs to increase awareness of women’s rights, health and environmental protection.
- The Bangkok Post also covered a seminar, led by Burma Partnership’s Khin Ohmar, regarding a KWAT report titled “Ongoing Impunity: Continued Burma Army Atrocity against Kachin People.” The seminar brought together an all-star list of civil society organizations to call attention to the ongoing state-sponsored violence against the Kachin ethnic group in Burma.
- On June 5, The Nation ran an opinion piece by Jackie Pollock, director of Map Foundation, an organization that strives for Burmese migrant workers to be free from discrimination and live safely and securely in Thailand. Pollock’s article calls for Thailand to include domestic and migrant workers in national labor laws in addition to “act quickly improve the pay and conditions of domestic workers” in the country, particularly with the number of arrests that will follow any kind of nationality verification processes.
- The Irrawady, a leading source of news, information and analysis on Burma and Southeast Asia, wrote about Ta’ang Students and Youth Organization (TSYO)’s new report, titled “Catalyst for Conflict,” which exposes the connections between Chinese companies, the Burmese army, and egregious human rights abuses. TSYO works to engage Burmese ethnic youth to develop the knowledge and political awareness to create a peaceful, just and equal society.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights has also been a critical topic this spring. From sex workers to LGBTI communities, AJWS grantees are making waves in the news:
- In April, when a pregnant Indian sex worker was assaulted by the police and miscarried, SANGRAM organized a vast cross-section of organizations (including AJWS partner Awaaz-E-Niswaan) to protest the human rights violations that sex workers suffer at the hands of the police. Read the article about the protest in The Hindu here. Sign the Change.org petition here.
- The Huffington Post ran an article that discussed why the women’s rights movement must start listening to the voices of sex workers. The piece highlighted Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW)’s documentation work around the horrifying physical and sexual abuse sex workers face when they are arrested, detained and sent to “rehabilitation” centers as a result of anti-sex trafficking laws.
- The Guardian featured Cambodian grantee Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) in a piece about the growing movement for lesbian rights in Cambodia: Coming out in Cambodia: Women in same-sex relationships stand up for human rights. It features two extraordinary activists, Srun Srorn and Ly Pisey, and their contributions to the LGBTI movement.