The Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma) is a regional organization with a solid track record for work centered on the empowerment of women and youth, particularly from minority communities. Since its founding in 1996, ALTSEAN has contributed significantly to transforming the movement for human rights and democracy in Burma/Myanmar, promoting religious and ethnic tolerance of minority groups, including the Rohingya. The political participation of women from of all ethnicities in conflict areas-particularly from Kachin and Shan states-is a key aspect of the organization's work. While its focus has been on Burma/Myanmar, ALTSEAN's international impact has grown through partnership with a range of organizations, including the International Federation on Human Rights (FIDH).
ASEAN-Burma runs programs in the following areas:
- Advocacy: workshops on basic advocacy project planning, campaigns, media, messages, advocacy tools.
- Economic literacy training: basic introduction to development economics
- Transitional justice: introduce participants to concepts and reforms relevant to transitional justice.
- Women writers workshop: help for first-time women writers with creative writing projects
Mission and objectives
ALTSEAN-Burma is engaged in advocacy and capacity-building to establish a free and democratic Burma/Myanmar. It works with the democracy movement and its supporters to produce resources and create opportunities for:
- Building and strengthening strategic relationships among key networks and organizations from Burma/Myanmar, ASEAN and the international community.
- Implementing innovative strategies that are responsive to emerging needs and urgent developments.
- Inspiring and building confidence for empowerment among activists, particularly women, youth and different ethnic groups in Burma/Myanmar.
Its main goals are to:
- Contribute to efforts to achieve democratic transition in Burma/Myanmar.
- Advance ASEAN reforms that will uphold democracy and human rights amongst members, particularly in Burma/Myanmar.
- Contribute to a more effective regional Burma movement.
- Support meaningful participation of women and youth from Burma/Myanmar in the movement.
- Enhance capacity-building programs to address the human resources and strategic needs of Burmese organisations.
- Promote mutually reinforcing advocacy messages and strategies by the Burma/Myanmar movement.
- ALTSEAN is often called upon to brief legislators, legislative aides, diplomats, NGOs and other key decision-makers on matters relating to Burma and ASEAN. These have been useful opportunities to propose solutions concerning Burma/Myanmar and assess perceptions and concerns of advocacy targets.
- It has contributed significantly to multi-sectoral advocacy that resulted in a breakthrough shift in ASEAN’s position on Burma/Myanmar.
- Since the formation of ALTSEAN-Burma, media work has been one of its strengths. The network has maintained contact with various journalists, providing both on-the-record comments and off-the-record analysis concerning developments related to Burma/Myanmar and the region. ALTSEAN-Burma has also assisted partner organizations with media strategy development and implementation.
- The research team reads and analyzes about 1,300 news articles and reports per month. This information is used to produce a variety of publications and materials, including online resources. Since 2007, the research team has produced over 70 thematic briefers and special reports and 115 issues of ASEAN-Burma’s main publication, the monthly Burma Bulletin. Most of its publications are available in the Thai and Burmese languages.
- The Women’s Internship Program is the first ongoing female-specific training program for Burma/Myanmar. It has been running since 1997. This programme has contributed to women’s participation and leadership in the human rights movement for Burma/Myanmar, particularly among young women of non-Burman ethnic nationality backgrounds. In June 2016 a total of 142 women had completed ASEAN’s internship programme. They came from 49 women, youth, and environmental organizations, and represented the 19 different main ethnic groups from Burma/Myanmar.
- As of August 2016, ALTSEAN had delivered 314 training workshops to more than 4500 participants from nearly 100 organisations in or linked to Burma/Myanmar.