Sexual violence by Burma army still a major concern

Ethnic Kachin woman Samlut Roi Ja was abducted at Mu Bum near Mai Ja Yang in Bahmo district in Kachin state in October 2011, believed to be raped and killed by the Burma army. Her case was dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Rape as a weapon of war remains a tactic used by the new nominally civilian government of Burma. The Women’s League of Burma (WLB) documented over 100 rape cases by the military in ethnic areas since 2010 that is “just the tip of the iceberg”, states the report.

“Same Impunity, Same Pattern: Report of Systematic Sexual Violence in Burma’s Ethnic Areas” documents patterns of sex offences on ethnic women by the military where the “same system of impunity remains” as with the previous military regimes.
Exposing the masquerading of the new government that claimed to have undergone a transformation even though ethnic women still remain at great risk from sexual violence by the Burma army was one of the main goals of the report.
For over a decade WLB with its partners has been documenting human rights abuses, particular sexual violence. These abuses are still frequently occurring, WLB has found.
“Despite declarations and promised reforms, year after year human rights documentations has exposed systematic failure to investigate or prosecute reported human rights abuses,” the report states.
These abuses include sexual violence and torture, unlawful arrests, killings, forced labour, land confiscation and displacement.
Since Thein Sein was elected in 2010, WLB has document 67 separate incidents of 104 women experiencing sexual violence.
Some of these include high profile cases like the abduction of Samlut Roi Ja in October 2011, believed to be raped and killed by the Burma army. Her case was dismissed by the Supreme Court.
They also involve lesser known cases like gang rape and prolonged torture of a 48-year old Kachin woman. The woman was beaten with rifle butts, stabbed with knives and stripped naked to be raped for three days in a church by about ten soldiers. She survived the vicious ordeal and has been re-united with her family, but is mentally deranged.
In his final report after serving for six years of human rights rapporteur for Burma Tomás Ojea Quintana showed he “has followed closely developments in Kachin and Shan States and is concerned by the allegations he continues to receive of attacks against civilian populations, extrajudicial killings, sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as torture”.

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