Military guilty of rape

Human rights activists are reporting an increased incidence of rape against Kachin women in areas of recent military attacks by government forces in northern Burma. In Kachin State alone, at least 18 cases of rape – sometimes aggravated with murder – were documented over an eight-day period in June by the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT) [ ], following renewed fighting between government and Kachin forces. In September to date, the number of reported rapes has risen to 37 in areas where government troops are active.

The attacks reportedly came within days of the government breaking the 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) by attacking ethnic forces in central Kachin State on 9 June. [ ]

The rape survivors included two 15-year-old girls and a 50-year-old woman – who was murdered after her granddaughter was killed, according to the report. [ ]

For many years, the civilian population has been oppressed. If they [Burma’s military] suspect that the people are giving information to the KIO, well, sometimes they disappear. Everyone is very afraid to speak out.

The use of sexual violence is one of the most serious within a whole litany of abuses that include forced labour, torture and ill-treatment and extra-judicial execution.

The Burmese soldiers rape the women and kill the villagers and all of this happens but they never report this to their commanders…. They never report to their own base because they think it’s not important to let the commander know. They want to wipe out our ethnic group and force us to become Buddhists like them, speak like them and become one of them.

Sexual assault is probably the most repulsive tactic that they use. It’s the most serious.

More than 25,000 people are now believed displaced by fighting in Kachin alone.

Burmese generals insist they are attempting to bring security to the country by demanding that all Burma’s armed ethnic groups come under a single Border Guard Force (BGF), controlled by the military. But many analysts believe the real reason is to access and control areas containing multiple energy resources such as hydropower dam sites, set to be built to supply neighboring China with electricity.

Clip_12 (2)It is now five years since the Burmese Army resumed attacks in Kachin State.  In that time:

  • More than 100,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes.
  • The Burmese Army has used rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.
  • Civilians have been tortured, killed, used as slave labour, detained without trial, and had their property stolen.
  • The Burmese Army has deliberately bombed civilian villages, including schools and medical centres.
  • The government and military are restricting humanitarian aid to those forced to flee their homes. What aid is getting through isn’t nearly enough.
  • The United Nations has said that war crimes are being committed, yet no action has been taken.

Why does not the NLD-led government and Burmese military take the following actions:

  1. The Burmese Army should end all offensives in Kachin and northern Shan states.
  2. President Htin Kyaw and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi should immediately authorise unfettered access for humanitarian aid.
  3. The government and military should end the endemic culture of impunity once and for all, holding perpetrators of human rights violations accountable for their crimes.
  4. The NLD-led government should ratify without delay key human rights treaties, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as well as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.