By Saw Yan Naing, The Irrawaddy, 23 Nov 2007

International women’s networks launched a campaign on Friday calling for the immediate and unconditional release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and all women activists who were detained during the September protests.

International women’s networks are joined by women’s rights groups, as well as individual activists in countries in Europe, the United States, Japan, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and other Asian countries.

The women’s network said 106 women are currently being held in detention, including six nuns.

Paw Hset Hser, spokeswoman for the Women’s League for Burma, said, “We are gravely concerned about the safety and well-being of activists on the run and all political prisoners in prisons and detention centers throughout Burma.”

Women are being used by the regime in a smear campaigns against activists and are often forced to admit on camera to having sexual affairs with monks, according to a statement released by WLB on Friday. The report notes that breastfeeding mothers, pregnant women and elderly women have also been targeted by the regime’s paramilitary forces and secret police.

Paw Hset Hser said, “We are particularly concerned that the women, including nuns, recently detained, are facing gender and sexual violence in addition to the other deprivations and unacceptable conditions in the prisons.”

Beginning on November 25—the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women—women’s networks will be demanding the release of all detainees by December 10, said the statement.

The Thailand-based Women’s League of Burma also launched a campaign in Bangkok with the release of a report titled “Courage to Resist” — detailing how women activists were hunted down, assaulted, tortured and forcibly charged. Family members of those arrested women were also threatened and held hostage.

WLB is also calling for the UN special rapporteur, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, to conduct a mission of inquiry into violence against women in Burma.