Burma Army still using rape as a weapon of warBy Zin Linn May 23, 2012 12:43AM UTC
The Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) has reported a gang-rape committed by soldiers from the Burma Army. The incident occurred at Luk Pi village in Chipwi township an area where heavy fighting took place in recent weeks between the Burmese soldiers and the Kachin Independence Army. The victim was found in a church where she took refuge after most of her neighbors run away, according to Myitkyina’s Blog. It was also confirmed by the Kachin News Group (KNG) and Kachinland News in their respective online pages.
A gang of bandit-like Burmese soldiers tortured a 48-year-old Kachin woman and then gang-raped for three days in her village church northwest of Pang Wa (Pangwa) beginning May 1, according to KWAT, citing interviews with the victim and a local villager who was forced to watch the assault.
Unarmed Kachin civilians are increasingly under attack from Burmese armed forces in retaliation for their fallen soldiers during fighting with the Kachin Independence Organization and its military wing the KIA. Daily accounts of Burmese army burning down villages, raping Kachin women, bombing innocent natives and arresting and torturing local residents are reported from local sources, KNG said.
According to KWAT a group of around 10 soldiers hit the victim with rifle butts, stabbed her with knives, stripped her naked and then gang-raped her over a period of three days in the church. The troops involved are said to be from Light Infantry Battalion 347 and Infantry Battalion 118.
KWAT says that Yu Ta Gwi, a 59-year-old man who also was tied up and apprehended by the soldiers, witnessed the brutal rape incident. When the troops left the church on May 4, local villagers found Yu Ta Gwi and the rape victim semi-conscious in the compound. Both Yu Ta Gwi and the unnamed women were taken to a local hospital.
Yu Ta Gwi added that he was stabbed in his thigh and beaten until he collapsed and lost consciousness, according to Kachinland News.
The woman suffered psychological trauma following torture and rape. Ngwa Sa, her husband, said in tears, “she doesn’t reply to me anymore, only talk about going home and I feel very sad.”
The 48-year-old mother was left extremely traumatized by the violence and remains in an extremely fragile condition, according to KWAT.
It is very unlikely that any of the soldiers involved in the rape will be formally investigated for their actions. Burma’s newly created national human rights commission has said that it will not probe allegations against the army or other incidents that are reported to have happened in conflict areas.
Last year, similar gang-rape violence committed by Burmese soldiers also occurred. The victim, Sumlut Roi Ja, a Kachin village-woman had been seen last in October while being detained by Burmese troops near Mai Ja Yang.
Earlier this year the husband of lost victim filed a lawsuit against the soldiers with the intention of pressuring the army to reveal the destiny of his wife. As there is no rule of law, the military-dominated Supreme Court in Naypyidaw had thrown out the case of a citizen who suffered rape and abduction by its soldiers. The law does not protect citizens; instead it defends the vicious soldiers who commit gang-rape.
In a press release issued last week highlighting the recent rape case, a KWAT spokesperson suggested that the Burmese legal system’s refusal to probe the Sumlut Roi Ja abduction case gave the army a green light to continue to target ethnic women. The message from the Naypyidaw Supreme Court is clear: the Burmese military can rape and kill ethnic women with impunity, said KWAT director Moon Nay Li.
According to Kachinland News , KIO Chairman Lanyaw Zawng Hra, KIO Central Committee, called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to send UN observer teams or intermediary teams to the conflict war zones, and to the towns and villages destroyed by the Burmese Army, and to the IDP camps in KIO areas.
As the Burmese army’s offensive continues grave human rights violations have reached an alarming level and the humanitarian situation has deteriorated in Kachin and Shan States. These incidents are not random acts of violence, said KWAT spokesperson Shirley Seng last year. The Burma Army is committing gang-rape and killing on a wide scale. It is clear they are acting under orders, Shirley Seng said.
KWAT demands that the regime immediately stops using rape as a weapon of war, ends the offensive against Kachin and other ethnic groups, and withdraws its troops from the ethnic areas.