Today, as Burma’s government stands poised to make “promising” political reforms, the resilient spirit of the Burmese people is more evident than ever. In February 2012, the Women’s League for Burma (WLB) initiated their Peace Signature Campaign, a movement that united over 17,000 Burmese peoples from all walks of life, including Internally Displaced peoples (IDPs), refugees and migrant workers. The Women’s League of Burma is and alliance of 13 women’s organization, representing many ethnic groups.
On World Refugee Day (June 20), the WLB issued an open letter for peace; a call for unity among the many different groups and peoples in the country to stand together in a “Public Peace Process.” The campaign and letter both represent cautious optimism; recognizing the importance of public unity and action in order to achieve real lasting change for Burma.
When many stories coming out of Burma today still report growing conflicts and tensions between different groups, a nationwide campaign calling for unity becomes increasingly important. The Peace Signature Campaign and the open letter speak to the necessity of solidarity among all people of Burma in support of freedom, and the acceptance and protection of refugees, IDPs, minorities and women’s rights. The campaign is delivering the message that public participation is an absolute necessity for political change and that if Burma is to step forward into a brighter era, all of its people must walk together.
Currently, the Peace Signature Campaign has 17,063 signatures and is still gaining support. While the campaign and letter are indicative of many things, perhaps the most important value it represents is unity. The greatest message the WLB and its supporters are sending through this campaign is that the united spirit of the people of Burma is much stronger than oppressive and intolerant forces and is fully capable of affecting great change. As the last paragraph of WLB’s open letter states:
“The Women’s League of Burma is urging political parties, civil society organizations, religious organizations, all armed forces, refugee and all citizens of Burma to prepare to be involved in a “Public Peace Process”: a nationwide peace process which mobilizes people in all communities to raise awareness and support for peace and to highlight issues that are critical and must be included in negotiations.”
Fittingly, the theme of this year’s World Refugee Day was “Restoring Hope” and it’s clear that the Burmese people stand ready to take that task into their own hands, together.