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Two women from Burma’s Democracy and Peace Women Network received N-Peace awards in Bangkok on October 24.
Presented by the United Nations Development Programme, a “Peace Generation” award went to ex-political prisoner Wai Wai Nu for “defending the rights of marginalised women”, while Mon activist Mi Khin Khin Kyu received the “Untold Stories” award for “working tirelessly to build a voice and fight for the rights of minority women”.
In addition, the Democracy and Peace Women Network itself was awarded the title “Thinking Outside the Box” for 2014. The prize was collected by organisation coordinator Naw Ohn Hla, who is renowned in Burma for her leading role in opposing the Latpadaung copper mine in Sagaing Division.
The Democracy and Peace Women Network is a Rangoon-based civil society organisation made up of volunteers, who strive “to connect with those most in need in Myanmar, individuals and communities whose rights and freedoms have been marginalised,” according to the N-Peace Network.
The Burmese women travelled to Bangkok to accept the awards at a ceremony from 24– 25 October.
Accepting her award, Wai Wai Nu said, “Firstly, I am proud to get the prize as a Burmese citizen because we need a lot of support during this transition period in Burma. And, if you look around the region, our country was left behind. We need support and recognition. That’s why I am happy to receive such an award. I feel this is a form of recognition for us. I will continue working for peace, justice and democracy in our country.”
Wai Wai Nu’s entire family has spent time in detention for their activism. She herself was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment when aged just 18. She was released in a presidential amnesty in 2012, and has since continued to campaign for democracy and human rights in Burma.
Accepting the award in Bangkok on behalf of her organisation, Naw Ohn Hla said she too would continue working for peace in Burma.
“In our country, as we all know, human right abuses have been ongoing. There is a lot of things we can do for our country and our people. My aim since the beginning was to achieve peace in the country as well as human rights, rights of equality, and to protect women from oppression. We need to keep working on these issues.”
The N-Peace Award was initiated in 2011 and is supported by AusAid.