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Children across Myanmar join hands calling for peace not violence

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YANGON, 20 November 2013 – As the world celebrates Universal Children’s Day and this year’s anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Myanmar’s children today joined hands across the nation to spread a national message of peace, empathy and understanding. The campaign - "Peace not Violence: Joining Hands Across Myanmar" – launched today by UNICEF with the Myanmar Government and local and international NGOs starts with children creating a sea of hands nationally with messages of peace and reconciliation.

The campaign is a cooperative effort lead by UNICEF’s ten offices nationwide. It will run over the coming year in the lead up to the 25th anniversary - on 20 November 2014 - of the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the CRC. The campaign starts this week with days of joy, learning, laughter and celebration including an action-packed day of fun on the 23 November at the Kyeike Wine Boys Training School in Yangon. The event will be attended by more than 500 children, senior government and UN officials, development partners, civil society representatives, and local, regional and international media thereby connecting Myanmar’s children into wider global efforts by the international community to end violence against children.

Violence against children includes physical, mental and emotional abuse, and exploitation and neglect of children occurring within families, schools, communities and across the Myanmar nation more broadly. In Myanmar, such violence includes but is not limited to domestic violence, corporal punishment and inter-communal violence. It also includes discrimination against and persecution of children on the basis of - for example - ethnicity, religion, nationality, class, gender or disability. As with all countries, violence against and abuse of children in Myanmar occurs at all levels of society. The consequences of violence against children are both immediate and long-lasting. A child exposed to violence can experience physical and psychological problems later in life and can sometimes harm themselves and/or others.

“In accordance with CRC Article 19, every child has the right to be protected from all forms of violence,” said UNICEF Representative in Myanmar, Mr Bertrand Bainvel. “We can all take a stand against violence. Today, it is the children of Myanmar that say no more violence, no more abuse,” he added.

In order to end violence against children in Myanmar, parents and teachers must be supported in their efforts to discipline children without resorting to violence. “Official guidance and awareness raising on age appropriate discipline is needed across Myanmar,” said Mr Bainvel. “Alternatives to the use of corporal punishment in schools must also be found starting with an immediate ban on all forms of discipline relying on violence as punishment,” he added.

UNICEF also welcomed recent calls for peace, stability and the rule of law noting that inter-communal violence across Myanmar continues to affect children most. “Peace-building and reconciliation activities must be prioritized if Myanmar’s children are to have the future they deserve, a successful and prosperous future to which they have a right,” said Mr Bainvel.

“The Peace not Violence: Joining Hands Across Myanmar campaign starts today by privileging children and adolescents as agents of peace. Yet everyone - including children, adolescents, mums, dads, teachers, elders, religious leaders, and national figures - have a role to play in ending violence against children. This UNICEF campaign will not shy away from engaging all elements of Myanmar society in choosing peace over violence in the interests of both putting children first and building a better, more hopeful world for all,” he concluded. [Ends]

BACKGROUND

Universal Children’s Day 2013 in Myanmar

UNICEF Myanmar is working across all 10 offices nationally including with the Department of Social Welfare, the National Child Rights Working Group, Terres de Hommes (Italia and Lausanne), RMO, Save the Children, World Vision and other civil society organizations to build a strong message of peace across Myanmar. For the first time, in events taking place nationally for the celebration of Universal Children's Day, children will take part in a national activity to join hands for peace in the name of ending violence against children.

The theme developed for the day is Peace not Violence - joining hands across Myanmar. This message highlights children and adolescents as agents of peace, and as having the right to a violence-free environment. It also highlights the responsibility of Myanmar adults to better protect children including by promoting peace and non-violence. UNICEF is supporting the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) to run five events across Myanmar in Yangon, Mandalay, Taunggyi in Shan State, Mawlamyaing in Mon State, and Dawei in Tanintharyi Region over 5 days of celebrations. In addition, UNICEF and civil society are working together to host events nationally including workshops for children on what peace and violence mean to them and on what they think the potential solutions are. Children will trace their hands onto coloured card and write a word on each card such as ‘hope’, ‘generosity’, ‘kindness’ symbolizing how we can all arrive at peace. The hands will then be attached to sticks and placed in the ground in celebratory locations to create a ‘sea of hands’. The day will also include speeches from DSW, local government including Chief Ministers, and United Nations and civil society representatives around the theme of peace not violence. Activities will culminate in a high-level event on 23 November witnessing the hands being symbolically brought together by flying them in from across Myanmar to create a ‘sea of hands’ spectacular in Yangon.

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information please contact:

Kirsten Sjolander, Interim-in-Charge, Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95 9 421 177 294 (m), ksjolander@unicef.org.

Sandar Linn, Communication Officer, UNICEF Myanmar, 09 517 2841 (m), slinn@unicef.org.

 

 
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