Toronto: Canadian women have launched a Panties for Peace! campaign to send their undergarments to the Myanmar military junta to frighten it into ending suppression.
At a press conference in Montreal, feminists and civil groups, working under the Rights & Democracy Student Network and the Quebec Women's Federation, urged Canadian women to inundate the Myanmar embassy in Ottawa with panties to unsettle the military rulers in the southeast Asian nation.
“The Panties for Peace! campaign is basically aimed to play on the military junta's superstitious fear that contact with a woman's undergarment will rob them of their power,” organiser Mika Levesque of the Rights & Democracy Student Network told IANS.
She said, “We appeal to every Canadian woman to clean up her drawer, choose one piece of panties, glue a picture of the military rulers on it or scribble some slogan or message for the junta and then register it with us before sending it to the Myanmar embassy in Ottawa. Registering with us will help us to keep track of how many panties have been sent to the embassy.”
Levesque added, “Like all other cultures, there was a superstitious fear of female undergarments in Myanmar. Its military junta fears that any contact with panties will spell disaster for them. So ours is a non-violent method to force change in Myanmar.”
She said Canadian men “should also prevail upon their wives, mothers and sisters to send panties to make this movement a huge success.”
Panties for Peace! was first launched last year by Lanna Action for Burma (LAB), a women's organisation based on Burma's border with Thailand.
Women in Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, Brazil and across Europe have joined it since then, sending their panties to Myanmar embassies in their respective countries to express solidarity with the suffering women of Myanmar and protest human rights violations by the military regime.
Levesque, who is also the Asia regional officer of the Rights and Democracy Student Network, said their Panties for Peace! campaign will continue till August 8.
“August 8 marks the twentieth anniversary of the popular 8888 (Aug 8, 1988) uprising in Myanmar. We want to tell the women of Myanmar that their sisters in the rest of the world think of them. Panties for Peace! will get a huge response as we have support of 30 groups in Quebec province and 40 student groups across Canada,” she said.
“Myanmar women have suffered the most at the hands of the military junta. They bring women to barracks, rape and brutalise them and then dump them back in their villages. The world should enforce sanctions on them and try them for human rights violations,” Levesque said.
Panties for Peace! organizers also plan to raise funds for the victims of the recent cyclone in Myanmar.
Michele Asselin, president of the Quebec Women's Federation, said, “This is a unique and important opportunity for women to help raise funds and awareness about the military regime's systematic use of rape and other brutalities against our sisters from Burma (Myanmar)."