Shan Women condemn Burma Army of using rape as war weapon
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Shan Women condemn Burma Army of using rape as war weapon

A press release has been delivered today by the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) condemning Burma Army of using rape as war weapon. The Burma Army is clearly authorizing rape as a terror policy in its offensive against the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N), according to information documented by SWAN and SHRF.

According to local sources, the operation launched by the Burmese government forces against the Shan State Army (SSA) and Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) is at a stalemate since April when they had their first fierce engagement.  However small conflicts between the opposite forces take place every­day particularly in Mongshu, Mongyai, Hsipaw and Kehsi townships, Shan Herald Agency News (SHAN) said.

On July 5, 2011, a Burma Army patrol from Light Infantry Battalion 513 entered the village of “Wan Loi” in Kehsi township, and within hours had looted property throughout the village and raped four women and girls in separate incidents: Nang Mon, age 12, Nang Jarm, age 50, Nang Lord, age 30 and Nang Poeng, age 35 (not their real names), said SWAN and SHRF.

Twelve year-old schoolgirl Nang Mon was raped in her home in front of her mother, who was beaten when she tried to shield her daughter. Nearby villagers heard the girl’s screams but did not dare get involved. Fifty-year old widow Nang Jarm was also raped in her own house, according to the document.

Burmese soldiers even did not spare Nang Lord, who was 9 months pregnant. She was pulled roughly to the ground and raped. Another poor girl, Nang Poeng was caught outside the village, beaten, stripped naked and raped in a farm hut. She was found by other villagers running naked in the jungle, the press release said.

“Wan Loi” lies 15 miles from the SSA-N headquarters of Wan Hai, which has been under fierce assault by over 3,000 Burma Army troops since March 13, when the regime broke the 22-year ceasefire. The troops have been committing widespread atrocities against local villagers, including sexual violence, causing thousands to flee their homes.

“Foreign governments dealing with Burma should not be silent about these atrocities. ‘Business as usual’ means ongoing rape in our communities,” said Hseng Moon.

There has been no sign of dia­logue between the Burma Army and the SSA but the gov­ern­ment forces tried to per­suade the Kachin Inde­pen­dence Army (KIA) for a nego­ti­a­tion. No fur­ther offer of cease­fire to the SSA has been made by the Burma Army since they met on April 11, 2011 in Mongkhurh, in the town­ship of Hsi­paw, Shan State North.

Northern Shan State is of crucial strategic importance for Burma’s military rulers, who are seeking to secure the area for major Chinese investments, including hydropower dams and trans-national gas and oil pipelines.

Meanwhile, Burmese army’s fighter aircrafts carried out bombing attack on Shan State Armys positions in Kehsi Mansan Township, southern Shan State, referring a spokesperson of the SSA, DVB said. Major Sai Lao Hseng said the attacks were carried out by two fighter aircrafts, presumably MIG jet fighters, at about 1.30 p.m. local time on 13 July.

The latest attacks occurred near the SSAs Wan Hai headquarters situated in mountainous region of southern Shan State, a strategic location for Shan troops who refused to be transformed into so-called border guard force, a plan imposed on them by the Burmese army.

“Burma Army troops are being given free rein to rape children, the pregnant and the elderly,” said SWAN coordinator Hseng Moon. “We strongly condemn these war crimes.”

This latest incident comes only weeks after the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand denounced the rape of 18 women and girls during renewed fighting last month in Kachin State. The breaking of ceasefire agreements with Kachin and Shan resistance groups has caused fighting to spread through 12 townships in northern Shan State.