Peace Campaigning in Myanmar

Ambassador: Thinzar Shunlei Yi , Myanmar (Burma)

Myanmar has the longest running and most complex civil war in the world, with over 20 ethnic and communal groups fighting each other. Thinzar organised peace rallies in 2013, 2014 and 2016, calling for an end to civil war in Myanmar despite military rule which at times has denied people the right to peaceful protest.

Thinzar believes the county’s military constitution inhibits Myanmar’s path to true democracy because it is divisive in its language and structure. She helped create a coalition of 6 organisations to campaign for changes in the constitution and discriminatory laws. Together they organised meetings and workshops in 19 towns across the country, 3 national media conferences were held, two meetings with parliamentarians and a lobbying dinner were organised. After 11 months the village tract law giving the military the right to enter and search a citizens home without a warrant or warning was abolished. The coalition disbanded after this law was repealed and Thinzar is now creating a new coalition to fight for further constitutional change.

Thinzar also believes the conflict in Myanmar is fuelled by the prejudices and cultural misunderstandings across various factions at a grassroots level. To address this she created the #myfriend campaign which publishes positive stories about cross-cultural friendships, and to allow moderate voices to be raised. The campaign reached over a million people both inside and outside Myanmar. Today people post online saying ‘despite our differences we can be friends’.