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“Same Impunity, Same Pattern”: Women’s League of Burma’s new report

January 20, 2014
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Women’s League of Burma has released another report of ongoing sexual violence perpetrated the Burma/Myanmar military in conflict-ridden ethnic areas titled, “Same Impunity, Same Pattern: Sexual abuses by the Burma army will not stop until there is a genuine civilian government” (link goes to pdf of full report).

“To bring justice for the victims of rape and sexual violence, we must take steps to ensure truth, justice and accountability,” notes Tin Tin Nyo, General-Secretary of WLB. “There can be no real reform without stopping all forms of violence, correcting the judicial system, amending the Constitution and enforcing the law to protect women’s lives.”

The report documents that despite a transition to a civilian government the military in Burma continues to use rape as a military weapon. This has been going on for decades.

Read: Kachin Women’s Association Thailand’s human trafficking report “Pushed to the Brink”

It has been well reported that in September Burma/Myanmar withheld support for a declaration of the UN general assembly seeking to put an end to sexual violence in conflict zones.

Below is a map that shows concentrated numbers of rape cases.

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(click to enlarge)

As Women Under Siege notes in one case,

When the woman’s husband returned home, the soldiers threatened to kill him. “Even if you tell other people, there is no one who will take action,” they said. “We have the authority to rape women.”

Voice of America interviewed Julia Marip of the Women’s League of Burma. She stated

“This is really, really seriously happening in the ethnic areas.  And the military is still attacking to the ethnic area because … they really want to control the ethnic area.  These ethnic areas have rich natural resources, so that means they take the security and the control of the ethnic areas.  Because of these military attacks, most women have been targeted for sexual violence.  This is happening widespread with impunity,”

Marip related the difficulty in getting women to talk about what happens.

“It is very, very difficult to get the document, actually, because they have been threatened not to speak out against these crimes that have been committed.  Then their family member is also threatened, so mostly people, women, who have faced these crimes not like to speak out.”

Karen News reports that a government official stated “It’s not the policy of our Tatmadaw [Burma Army] to use rapes as weapons.”

The spokesman added, “If there are rape cases committed by individual members, we try to expose them and take effective action against the offenders. It would be very helpful in taking action against the offenders if those who prepared the report could send us the details of the cases.”

Tin Tin Nyo stated that 28 women “were killed or died from their injuries.” It has been noted that few have confronted the Burma army for ongoing sexual violence. Even Aung San Suu Kyi has been reluctant to directly demand change.

Last month, at a press conference in the main city of Yangon, Suu Kyi was asked if she was concerned about the lack of accountability when it comes to the use of rape as a weapon of war. Instead of criticizing generals, she pointed out that insurgent groups also are responsible for sexual violence.

“This has to do with rule of law. And that has to do with politics, and the position of the army as it is in a particular political structure,” she said. “I think you are well aware of the fact that military armed groups which are not official armies also engage in sexual violence in conditions of conflict.”

Suu Kyi wants to run for president in next year’s elections, but the army has the power to block those ambitions, and she’s showing increasing reluctance to criticize.

TransConflict argues the Responsibility to Protect should include conditions of sexual violence in their report, Engendering the Responsibility to Protect doctrine – time to include rape and sexual violence? They state “Engendering the Responsibility to Protect doctrine would be an effective strategy in response to the hitherto unhindered trend of sexual violence and rape in war.”

The Women’s League of Burma consists of thirteen women’s organizations representing different ethnic areas in Burma/Myanmar.

Additional posts on Women’s League of Burma’s report “Same Impunity, Same Pattern.”

New report documents systematic sexual violence in Burma – Nobel Women’s Initiative

Burma military ‘using rape as weapon’ – BBC

Concerns Over Impunity in Burma – The Irrawaddy

Sexual violence committed by Burma Army continues - The Chinland Guardian

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