The Peace Way Foundation was formed in February 2002. It operates as an umbrella organisation, under which is a project called Burma Issues. BI has operated since 1990. The formation of the Peace Way Foundation allowed us to be a recognised and registered organisation with the Thai Government. By becoming a Foundation our organisation has obtained legal status and ensured greater security for the work we do. One of the aims in forming the Foundation was also to allow us to expand our work and our ideology into other areas and countries, not to be secular in our work, but to strive to help build a global grassroots movement.
The organisation was initially founded in 1990 and acts as a private, non-profit organisation devoted to a peaceful resolution to Burma's struggle for human rights and democratic rule. We are non-partisan and do not advocate, campaign for or represent any leaders, political parties or ideologies as solutions to Burma's civil strife.
The Peaceway Foundation is unique in that we focus on the marginalised communities living in the war zones of Burma as the target group for building a peace based on justice for everyone. Our approach is based on concepts of community organising and empowerment of these marginalised communities. We are firmly committed to nonviolent forms of peacemaking and conflict transformation.
As of the year 2002, Burma has suffered more than fifty years of armed conflict and forty years of one-party military rule. Despite growing international awareness of human rights abuses throughout the country, the resolution of Burma's conflicts and the strengthening of its democratic civil society will be a long-term struggle. This struggle must be nurtured and led by the people of Burma themselves, and international support for political change only will not help address the social and cultural aspects of the conflict.
The civil war has disrupted the lives of people all over the country, but has had an especially devastating effect on people living in the distant rural areas which lie along the border lines between Burma and its neighbours. These people are isolated from the rest of the country with little or no access to information and no chance to participate in the political and economic life of the country. They have little opportunity for education, health care, jobs, and adequate food supplies.
The Peaceway Foundation believes that the civil war in Burma is caused by chauvinism that can be found in all levels of society and among all groups. Chauvinism is an attitude or belief that an individual or specific group has the right to dominate another individual or group with the purpose of dividing the people, preventing their solidarity and fomenting discrimination and mistrust. This chauvinism feeds the forces of militarism and perpetuates violence in all areas of society including ethnicity, religion and gender.