by Violet Cho, The Irrawaddy, 18 Oct 2007

peacepanty by wackyjacThe “Panties for Peace” campaign aimed at Burma’s military regime is gaining momentum, with the establishment of a committee to drum up support in Thailand.

The campaign began on October 16, with women throughout the world sending packages to Burmese embassies containing panties. Burma’s superstitious generals, particularly junta chief Than Shwe, believe that contact with any item of women’s wear deprives them of their power.

“Panties for Peace” campaigns have sprung up in Australia, Europe, Singapore—and now Thailand, where a Lanna Action for Burma committee has been formed in Chiang Mai to support the feminine protest.

Ying Tzarm, a co-founder of Lanna Action for Burma, told The Irrawaddy that the campaign was aimed at undermining the superstitious beliefs of the military regime.

Liz Hilton, a supporter of the Lanna Action for Burma and a member of the Empower foundation, said that by sending underwear to the men of Burma’s overseas embassies women would be delivering a strong message to the regime.

“The SPDC is famous for its abuse of women, so this can be a very strong signal from women around the world supporting the women in Burma,” she said.

“Many feel there’s little we can do. It is like living next to domestic violence when we see the military government brutal crack down in Burma. We can hear that fighting in the next-door house or in the same village. We have tried to talk, we have tried to do many things. But we need to express our feelings.”

In another unusual popular protest action, people in Rangoon are hanging pictures of Than Shwe around the necks of stray dogs. It’s a very serious insult in Burma to associate anybody with a dog.

Graffiti anti-regime messages are also appearing on trains and buses in Rangoon. “Killer Than Shwe” is a popular slogan.

“The people of Burma are doing what they can inside [the country],” said Liz Hilton. “We should do whatever we can outside. Most of us are not politicians, we are not powerful people. But women do have the power of their panties—let’s use that.”