A film released this week purports to show strong evidence that rape of ethnic women by Burmese troops is endemic, and could be a deliberate policy of the country’s military in its ongoing conflicts in the country’s border regions.
The findings supplement various reports released this year that document cases of rape by soldiers, notably the surveys carried out by the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT) which have found close to 40 incidents of sexual violence in the country’s war-torn northern state since June.
The film, ‘Bringing Justice to Women of Burma’, which was produced by the umbrella group Women’s League of Burma (WLB) and aired at a forum in Chiang Mai yesterday, claims that the Burmese government has ignored all UN resolutions calling for an end to violence against women.
Moreover, what qualifies as a war crime is carried out with complete impunity, and continues despite the transition to a nominally civilian government in Burma, it says.
One woman from northern Burma who was interviewed in the film describes in harrowing detail how she and others were raped by a soldier.
“I was so scared and I screamed. Then he threatened me, if you keep screaming I will punch your baby through your stomach. I could only cry while he brutally raped me. I could only cry. Not only one person, but one after another … up to four.”
Moon Nay Li, of KWAT, said that cases of rape “are becoming more and more frequent” as the military steps up its campaign to eliminate the opposition Kachin Independence Army.
A press release from the WLB urged the UN to carry out a commission of inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Burmese military, something that critics of the government have long called for but which has yet to bear fruit.
The chances of any complaints being adequately dealt with by the newly-formed, government-appointed National Human Rights Commission are slim, said Nang Hseng Noung of the Shan Women’s Action Network, meaning that it would not take the rape cases to that body.