7. Rights of Women
Since the military regime took power in 1962, it has put disproportionate resources into maintaining its power and strengthening the military. The result of this and the ongoing civil war is poor infrastructure, inadequate health care and education systems, widespread poverty and a militarized society that puts the needs of the civilian population, particularly women, second to military concerns. The elevation of the military in society has enforced stereotypes about the subordinate status of women while at the same time blocked access to the tools, such as education and health care, women need to attain genuine equality. Although the military regime became a party to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination of Women (CEDAW) in 1997 it has done little more than make token changes, such as the formation of some women’s organizations, to implement the tenets of the convention.
Ethnic women living in conflict areas are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses. Health care and education is severely underdeveloped in these areas, including access to family planning methods. Women in these areas are also subject to forced relocations, forced labor, forced portering in war zones, physical abuse and sexual violations. These are directed, primarily, at ethnic minorities seeking autonomy. Women in conflict areas find themselves vulnerable to abuse and lacking in their basic needs which may force them into becoming refugees or migrants.
Women in Politics
Although Burma signed the U.N Convention on Political Rights in 1954, male dominance is also seen in the Burmese political arena. Women and girls are educated less frequently than males and are often relegated to low-paying, unskilled jobs in the economy. As a result of this and other factors women have less access to positions of power, and are excluded from the decision and policy-making process. Since 1962 the number of women reaching high-level positions in their careers has declined, and, because women are barred from serving in the military, they are effectively blocked from all positions of leadership in the country. The few women who are in senior positions, such as Dr. Khin Win Shwe, leader of the MMCWA, are often the wives and relatives of SPDC officials. In 1996, following the Beijing conference on women, a Myanmar National Women’s Affairs Committee was established, which was followed by the establishment of Women’s Affairs Committees at the state/division and township levels. However, on the national level both the chair and vice-chair are men and of the remaining 32 members only half are women. On the state/division, district and township levels, the wives of SPDC administrators hold the second positions. There are no women in the SPDC cabinet. At the district and township levels administrators are male military appointees. In addition, in villages and remote areas that have little contact with the central government, most local authority figures, such as village heads and village council members are men.
During the 1988 pro-democracy uprising many women took to the streets to protest against the military dictatorship and during the violent suppression of the movement hundreds were shot and killed while demonstrating in Rangoon and other towns. After the formation of independent political parties in 1988 several women, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of the NLD, rose to prominent political leadership roles. In the election of 1990, the results of which have never been honored, 16 women, out of 485 members, were elected to parliament. Since that time hundreds of women have been imprisoned, systematically harassed, interrogated or detained for being politically active, aligning themselves with a political party, or speaking out for human rights. As of 2002, there were still at least 87 women political prisoners in detention. Wives and mothers of male political prisoners have been harassed by MI and are left with the financial responsibility of the family in the absence of their husbands and sons. The number of politically active women on the whole has been smaller than that of men, in part because of a fear that they are vulnerable to sexual abuse if taken in to custody. Young women who are part of banned student unions are also routinely arrested and deprived of their liberty, often whilst taking part in peaceful protest demonstrations.
On 6 May 2002, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was released after 19 months of house arrest. Many people felt this was a hopeful signal of progress for the country and a move toward change in the government. However, Aung San Suu Kyi continued to be the subject of harassment and discrimination by the SPDC during her travels and campaign activities. Prior to her release, the SPDC had slandered her for defying the traditional role of a woman. The SPDC accused her of being a bad mother who has neglected her responsibilities to her family by working as politician. At times, their defamations went so far as to call her a prostitute (source: ALTSEAN & Belak, Brenda, Gathering Strength Women from Burma on Their Rights. Images Asia, January 2002).
After just over one year of freedom from house arrest, the SPDC re-arrested Aung San Suu Kyi on 30 May 2003, also known as "Black Friday". Her arrest followed an attack on her convoy while campaigning in northern Burma. The attacks were reportedly led by SPDC government supporters, Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) members, police, and soldiers. Several other NLD members were arrested simultaneously including NLD General Secretary Deputy Chairman U Tin U. Others were killed or reported missing. NLD offices were forced closed and arrests continued beyond the day of the attacks (source: Briefing: Black Friday and The Crackdown on the NLD, ALTSEAN, 24 July 2003)
The SPDC claims that Aung San Suu Kyi was taken into "protective custody" and will be released when a calm and peaceful environment has been regained in the country. On 30 July 2003, it was reported that SPDC Foreign Minister Win Aung stated that Aung San Suu Kyi would possibly released before the October 2003 ASEAN meeting. Many remain skeptical that this will actually occur (source: Johnston, Tim, "Aung San Suu Kyi Detention to End in 3 Months", VOA, 30 July 2003 ).
7.2 Health of Women from Burma
As a result of the SPDC prioritizing military expenditures over spending for social services, such as health care, women’s health has suffered. According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, the SPDC spends 6.5% of total government expenditures on health. In June 2000, the WHO rated Burma at 190th among the nations of the world as a health care provider, distributor and for successfully delivering and supporting the plans it has proposed. According to the World Bank in 1999, reported spending for military needs was nine times that for health services. A UNICEF –Myanmar report from 2001 indicated that there is 1 health worker for every 4 villages or every 3,400 people. Very few women participate in the decision making bodies of the SPDC government, therefore women’s health issues are not represented as policy is designed. Lack of infrastructure, continued armed conflict between the SPDC and rebel groups, high cost, lack of transportation and privitization of health care services all lend to making access to good quality care increasingly difficult for women. Access to basic health care, family planning information and prenatal care is increasingly scarce in rural and ethnic minority areas or areas of conflict. Women who are on the run or in relocation sites, suffer from exposure to the elements, lack of clean water and sanitation, not enough food and no medicine, and are thus more likely to contract diseases such as malaria, anemia, hepatitis and dysentery.
Most women give birth with the help of a midwife or a trained birthing attendent, whose skills are often questionable. Even when formal medical facilities are utilized, they are often ill equipped or the staff is undertrained to handle birth complications. According to UNICEF figures, the maternal mortality rate is 230 per 100,000 births. Infant mortality rate is 78 per 1,000 births. Gathering Strength: Women from Burma on Their Rights, a report released by Images Asia, indicated that 65% of women in urban areas and towns receive antenatal care from midwives and 12% from doctors. In remote or rural areas, many women receive no antenatal care at all. Most women are unaware of birth spacing methods, contraception or risks of sexually transmitted diseaeses. Contraceptives were only legally introduced in 1991 and condoms in 1993. According to UNICEF, 33% of married women between the ages of 15-49 utlize contraceptives. Most women learn about contraceptives through their own or other women’s experimentation causing either negative experiences, misuse or improper understanding. Many women are inhibited from buying condoms because of the cost, the association with sex work and the fact that possession of condoms can be grounds for arrest if a woman is stopped by the police. As HIV/AIDS is an ever increasing problem in Burma, women are increasingly at risk of contracting the disease yet education is limited. Cultural taboos and heavy government control over information restrict dicussion or education about sex or women’s health issues.
Lack of access to contraceptives and lack of education about reproductive health, have made illegal abortions a common form of birth control in Burma. According to the Women’s League of Burma, 750,000 abortions are performed every year. 50% of all maternal deaths are believed to be the result of unsafe abortions or post-abortion complications. While cultural beliefs promote the notion that only unmarried women have abortions, married women are increasingly turning to abortion as a means of birth control. According to UNICEF, approximately 14 % of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 have at least one abortion in their lives. If a women or a medical practictioner is discovered to have had or given an abortion, they may be subject to fines or up to three years imprisonment. Abortions do occur in hospitals, but more often than not women seek the help of untrained practitioners. Women use a variety of methods to induce abortion including ingestion of large doses of traditional herbs to cause menstruation and deep abdominal massages. Often foreign objects such as sticks, bamboo or other objects are inserted into the cervix. Infections and other complications are highly common leading to infertility or death. (Source: ALTSEAN & Belak, Brenda, Gathering Strength Women from Burma on Their Rights. Images Asia, January 2002)
According to preliminary research collected by Suzanne Belton, PhD Candidate at Melbourne University Key Centre for Women’s Health in Society, Faculty of Medicine, 12 Burmese women died in local Thai hospitals in Tak province Thailand during 2001-2002 due to lack of antenatal care, post abortion complications and complications while giving birth. 457 post abortion cases were treated at the Mae Tao clinic, which was established by Dr Cynthia Maung to treat the Burmese migrant population. 40% of the women interviewed performed home abortions before coming to the clinic for treatment (see chapter on migrant workers for more information). (Source: Suzanne Belton, PhD Candidate at Melbourne University Key Centre for Women’s Health in Society Faculty of Medicine)
7.3 Women and Forced Labor
Burma ratified Article 11 of the ILO convention No. 29 in 1955; the article states that the use of compulsory labor must be confined to males between the ages of 18 and 45 and only used under very limited circumstances. Moreover, the SPDC passed a law in October 2000 banning forced labor under Section 374 of the Penal Code. Despite this, the SPDC not only continues to use forced labor but does not hesitate to use women in all kinds of forced labor, such as building railways, hydro-electric dams, building and maintaining military supply roads, digging ditches, breaking stones and portering in war zones. As forced labor is particularly prevalent in rural areas inhabited by ethnic minorities, ethnic women are routinely taken for forced labor duties, including teenage girls if both their parents are busy working and they must fill a household forced labor quota.
Forced labor, in particular forced portering, puts women at greater risk of sexual violence. In addition to being vulnerable to sexual harassment and abuse during forced labor, women most often do not receive adequate food or medical treatment. This combined with the physical strain of forced labor puts their health at risk. Women who are pregnant are not exempt from forced labor assignments. Generally it is possible for people to pay another person to go in their place, but women who cannot afford to do this must risk their own health and that of their unborn child to carry out what are often arduous tasks (please see the appropriate chapter for more information on forced labor).
Example Incidents of Women and Forced Labor in 2002
On 25 February 2002, about 600 Burmese troops arrived at Nakawngmu, opposite Chiangdao District, Chiangmai Province, in 30 Chinese six-wheeled lorries. More than a hundred porters including women were collected. Another group of 150 porters (50 each from Maeken, Mongharng and Poongpakhem tracts) who were captured around February 15 were engaged in carrying supplies from Namhukhun, east of Poongpakhem, to Pakhee outpost. (Source: SHAN)
On 3 June 2002, troops from SPDC LIB 53 demanded 7 villagers from Kler-doe-kha village and 6 villagers from Kler-pa-hti village to work as porters to carry food supplies for the army to Than-daung Town. Naw Khar Gaw, 33, a pregnant woman, was injured by a truck, which hit her while she was carrying army food supplies for Day-thaw camp. (Source: KIC)
On 20 June 2002, IB No. 77 troops led by Lt. Col. Myo Lwin and Maj. Kyaw Kyaw Oo arrested about 40 people from Wet-nan and Wet-sadon villages of Kya-inn-seikyi Township to use them as porters in their military offensives against the KNLA.
The troops went into these two villages, which are close to each other and are in a ‘free-fire zone’ and arrested about 40 villagers including some women. The soldiers forced them to carry ammunition and food supplies for 7 days and the commanders said they would release them after that period.
Whilst the soldiers were taking these porters, they launched offensives in ‘Kyaik-done’ area. After 7 days of offensives, the troops returned to the two villages again. When they tried to get another 40 villagers to replace the old porters, they weren’t able as many men and other villagers had fled from the villages, so they used the same porters and arrested some more women from the village, for another weeks in porter service.
One woman porter said that the soldiers forced her to carry 4 mortar shells and she was beaten when she could not climb the mountains like the male porters. She said she also saw the soldiers kill some Karen villagers in some rural villages in Kyaik-done area. (Source: HURFOM)
On 20 June 2002, LIB No. 77 under the command of LID No. 88 led by Lt. Col. Myo Myint Win and his deputy, Maj. Myint Myint Oo, went into Wet-don and Wet-sa-kon villages and asked the village headmen from both villages to provide them with 40 male porters. The village headmen provided them and the soldiers took those villagers as porters for 7 days. After 7 days, they returned to these two villages again and requested the village headmen again to provide them with 40 porters to exchange for the former porters. As most men were afraid of being arrested by the soldiers, they fled from village and hid in the forest. The commanders were quite angry with the village headmen and then they arrested some women and used them as porters to carry ammunition and food supplies for another 2 days to reach their base. According to one woman, she was forced to carry about 5 motor shells like a man. (Source: HURFOM)
On 2 July 2002, these battalion troops also entered into Taung-bauk village and arrested 10 villagers as porters including Nai Halae, who was used as a guide. When he showed them the wrong way to a Mon village, he was severely beaten, said one of the female porters. (Source: HURFOM)
On 9 November 2002, when troops from the Burmese Army entered into Khaw-za village, in the southern part of Ye Township, Karen State, they tried to arrest some men to use them as porters. However they arrested about 30 women in the village and forced them to carry their food supplies and also used them to walk in advance as human-shields. It was too dangerous for Burmese troops to walk alone along the road to Ying-ye village because they could be attacked by Mon rebel soldiers. The two villages were over 10 miles apart so they had to walk for some hours to reach the destination. To prevent an attack or to avoid casualties, the Burmese soldiers made the women walk in advance. (Source: HURFOM)
7.4 Violence against Women
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was ratified by the SPDC in 1997. According to a shadow report prepared by the Women’s Affairs Department of the NCGUB and various women’s groups from Burma for the 22nd session of CEDAW, violence against women is present in 3 realms of society; the family, the community and the state. Yet the Myanmar National Committee for Women’s Affairs indicates that violence against women is not a matter of major concern. At the same time, a survey of 80% of Burma’s townships reveals that physical and mental violence affects 3-15% of women. Domestic violence is a worldwide problem, however it has been found that incidents of domestic violence increase in situations where there is fear, anxiety, desperation and anger such as in areas where there is ongoing civil war. One symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has been found present in up to 15% of some adult refugee populations, is irritability and anger than can lead to aggressive and violent behavior. Most women in Burma do not have a means of escaping situations of abuse as they are financially dependent on their husbands and would not be able to support themselves or their children if they left. Domestic violence is often viewed as a private matter between husband and wife. Community and family often pressure women not report incidents of abuse, therefore authorities are not often involved. All types of violence are aggravated by the militarized nature of Burmese society and the ongoing civil unrest. (Source: ALTSEAN & RI & Belak, Brenda, Gathering Strength Women from Burma on Their Rights. Images Asia, January 2002)
Women, particularly ethnic women, are the targets of state violence in Burma. Rape is a common form of violence carried out against women and SPDC troops often rape ethnic women in conflict zones knowing that they will not be punished. Because women are often raped during everyday activities they cannot avoid situations where they might be at risk of rape and are in constant fear of sexual violence. Gang rapes are common, suggesting that rape is not a random act of violence but is systematically carried out by the military and women are not infrequently killed afterwards to prevent them from reporting the incident. In addition, women and in particular young girls often die of injuries sustained during rape. There are also known cases of soldiers raping women in order to force marriages. The SPDC has shown itself at worst to be encouraging the practice of rape of ethnic women and at best to be indifferent to it. Villagers that complain about rape can either be met with apathy or threats of retaliation if they continue to complain about it.
In June 2002, the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) released a report, License to Rape. The report detailed the systematic use of sexual violence by the military regime against the women of Shan State. The report documents 173 incidents of rape involving 625 women and girls by SPDC soldiers from 1996 to 2001. 83% of the documented rapes were perpetrated by officers. 25% of the incidents resulted in death. 61% of the rapes were gang-rapes. In only one case out of 173 was the perpetrator punished by the military. Licence to Rape has made a successful impact on the international community and called attention and criticism to the SPDC. The UN General Assembly and the US State Department and Congress condenmned the Burmese military’s use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. The SPDC denounced the report and suggested that the cases documented were all fabricated. The SPDC reportedly conducted their own investigation into the rapes in Shan State and found the evidence in License to Rape to be untrue. It was discovered that the SPDC’s investigation included intimidation and forced documentation that the rapes never occured. In September 2002, SWAN and SHRF released A Mockery of Justice: The State Peace and Development Council’s Investigation into the ‘License to Rape’ Report documenting the SPDC’s human rights abuses in their attempt to discredit the information in Licence to Rape. The following is an except from the report detailing the methods in which the SPDC concluded that information in License to Rape was invalid:
"The investigations were carried out in an intimidating manner. Male military officers led the investigation. The team traveled in a 12-truck military convoy, each truck filled with 8-9 armed soldiers. Headmen in selected localities were ordered several days in advance by local military units to provide a specific number of villagers (between 15-40) to meet the visiting team. The headmen were threatened not to mention any incidences of rape by the Burmese military in their area. If a headman did not attend the meeting, he was threatened with a fine of 3 000 kyat (equivalent to 10 days of labor at the current daily wage-rate in Shan State). The headmen randomly chose people who were available. Male villagers, on the whole, met the investigation team.
At each locality, the team’s armed escorts and local soldiers scoured the area in advance, and stood guard while the meeting took place. The venue was either in front of a local district office, a school, a village headman’s house or in a military base.
As villagers arrived at the venue, a military officer wrote their names on a prepared Burmese language document. When the required number of villagers had arrived, the visiting SPDC team came to the venue. The officer in charge of the team then stated he was there to confirm there had been no incidences of Burmese troops raping women in that area. He spoke in Burmese; there was no translation. Villagers who could not understand Burmese did not know what was being said. Those that could speak Burmese did not dare mention any cases. All the villagers were ordered to sign next to their names on the prepared document, which stated that there had been no incidences of Burmese troops raping women in their area. Those that could not write had to stamp their fingerprints, and did not know what the document said.
Outside the township office in Murng Hsat, after signing the statement, the villagers were forced to chant publicly three times: "The Burmese army have not raped Shan women," and raise their hands as they chanted. Pictures were taken of them doing this. " (Source: A Mockery of Justice: The State Peace and Development Council’s Investigation into the ‘License to Rape’ Report, SWAN, 24 September 2002)
In March 2003, Refugees International published No Safe Place, a report confirming and supporting the evidence presented in Licence to Rape. The report detailed incidents of rape and sexual violence in other non-Shan ethnic areas including Karen, Karenni, Tavoy, and Mon areas. The report indicated that rape occurs in conjunction with increased militarization and other human rights abuses. Rape and sexual violence occur during flight, migration, incarceration in military camps, forced labor and while farming. The Burmese Penal Code indicates that a perpetrator of rape must be imprisoned from 10 years to life. The Burmese army also indicates that all soldiers are aware that rape and sexual violence are subject to punishment under both military and civilian laws. Many soliders use rape as a form of entertainment to demoralize the ethnic minority populations and as a method of Burmanizing the country through resulting forced marriage and impregnation. In urban areas incarcerated women, who may have been participants in peaceful protests, are also reported to be subject to rape during their imprisonment. (Source: No Safe Place: Burma’s Army and the Rape of Ethnic Women, Refugees International, April 2003)
7.5 Trafficking of Women
Woman from all over Burma leave the country through the hands of traffickers every year. The continually declining economy, high levels of poverty, lack of opportunity for education and employment result in women looking outside the country for work. This is the case particularly in areas that have been subject to forced relocation and in border regions, which are predominantly the ethnic states. Many who are fleeing as refugees, particularly from Shan State, Chin State and Sagaing Division are unable to enter refugee camps and therefore are restricted in their options for leaving the country. At the same time, the SPDC created international and domestic travel restrictions for women under the pretense of protecting women from trafficking. Women between the ages of 16 to 25 must travel in the company of a legal guardian. In some areas, women must have special permits in order to travel between towns. The high cost of identity cards, which allow for travel in and out of Burma, prevents many women from obtaining them. Since May 1996, women have not been able to obtain work passports if they are under 30 years old. Women have also been unable to get overseas study passports without the sponsorship of the government. These travel restrictions combined with the poor economic conditions and restrictions for entry into the refugee camps lead to women to seek the help of agents and to be trafficked, whether for sex work or other types of employment, such as factory work or domestic service. (Source: Belak, Brenda, Gathering Strength Women from Burma on Their Rights. Images Asia, January 2002)
Women from Burma are trafficked to China, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Thailand. The greatest number of women is trafficked to Pakistan via Bangladesh and Thailand. Many of the women who leave Burma with the help of a trafficker do so without knowing what sort of employment or working conditions they will encounter. In a best case scenario trafficked women are able to escape exploitative labor situations and enjoy greater self-determination than they would have by staying in Burma. In worst case scenarios they are sold into bonded labor situations where they are kept incommunicado in slave like conditions. Age is an important factor in determining what kind of situation a trafficked person will face, with younger women and girls being more easily exploited. The continuing economic crisis in Burma combined with the lack of social welfare services and the strong sex industry in Thailand, as well as inside Burma, has left sex work as one of the only viable employment opportunities for women. It is estimated that there are more than 40,000 Burmese sex workers in Thailand alone. Sometimes women willingly go into this kind of work, but often don’t realize the conditions they will be working under or the risks to their health. In other cases women and girls are sold by their families, or others, into prostitution. Once inside brothels, their bonded labor situation continues, with the women being forced to pay for mandatory HIV tests and abortions, and exorbitant living costs, thus ensuring that they remain in debt to the brothel owners. Brothels in Thailand are frequently raided, with some of these raids carried out with owner’s cooperation in order to further raise the women’s debts. In February 2001, 33 teenage girls were arrested in Thailand on charges of prostitution, with four of them admitting that they were from Burma. During these raids police frequently find women and girls tied up or chained to prevent them from trying to escape. (Source: Burmanet)
The United States 2002 Trafficking in Persons Report indicated that Burma is in violation of the minimum standards of the "Trafficking Victims Protection Act". Moreover, the SPDC has done little to try and meet these standards. The SPDC indicated that it is creating "Human Trafficking Prevention Committees" as a part of its "Anti-Human Trafficking Campaign". The committees will be located in various states and divisions to monitor people ages 16-25 years and travel in the border areas. There is concern that these committees will do more to limit freedom of movement and expression than to thwart trafficking. Meanwhile, individuals who traffic women and girls are often powerful and easily escape prosecution as a result of maintaining close ties with border police and other officials who profit from the trafficking. The complicity of officials allows the trade to continue and thrive and limits women’s access to other types of work as they are often passed from the trafficker directly into the hands of the brothel owner. Women who return home after working in the sex industry often face discrimination and can be prosecuted for illegal departure and prostitution with sentences of up to three years. (Source: ALTSEAN)
Sex Workers in Burma
Gathering Strength, a 2002 report produced by Images Asia, indicates that the population of sex workers in Burma is ever increasing. Some sex workers were reportedly victims of rape or sexual abuse and turned to sex work as a result of cultural beliefs that women who have sex outside of marriage are ruined. Yet, most women turn to sex work because of economic factors. In Burma, most women involved in sex work do so on a part-time basis to supplement their primary work as traders, laborers, and transport service workers in roadside teashops. Many sex workers are divorced or married with husbands who are away for extended periods of time. Even wives of army personnel are reported to take up sex work as a means to supplement the meager earnings of their husbands to feed their families. Some women feel that sex work provides a better pay rate and better working conditions than other forms of employment as a laborer or factory worker. Some sex workers with foreign business clientele in Rangoon are able to make as much as $100 per client. Although, most women do not have foreign clients and make as little as 5 Kyat per client, depending on location and desperation of their economic needs. Female sex workers in Burma are concentrated in cities such as Rangoon, Pegu, Prome, Magway, Mandalay, Monywa, Lashio, Pa-an, Tavoy, and Mergui; or else along trade routes or international border towns such as Tachilek, Muse, Mong La, Keng Tung, Myawaddy, Kawthaung, or Tamu.
Burmese women engaged in sex work face many risks, both physical and psychological. For fear of ostracism by their communities, most women travel outside of their communities to perform their work. Sex workers are also at risk of arrest and are likely to be raped during any time of imprisonment. Most girls and women engaged as sex workers feel that they are unable to insist that customers use a condom. At the same time, possession of a condom is grounds for arrest, if discovered by the police. Thus it believed that most commercial sex in Burma, and the rest of Asia, occurs without a condom leaving sex workers at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. According to the research of Dr. Chris Beyrer, Director of the Johns Hopkins Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program, nearly 52% of all female sex-workers in Burma are HIV+. There are many obstacles to empowering and educating all women in Burma about sex-issues. Cultural taboos limit open discussion about any kind of sexual activity, and there is a tendency for many people to view sex in general as immoral. There is also a huge stigma against people with HIV, and many women who are infected feel that they cannot return to their communities. (Source: ALTSEAN)
In many cases women are forced into the sex industry, and significant physical and sexual abuse is used in order to ‘break them in’. Such violent sexual acts can result in abrasions increasing a women’s susceptibility to contracting HIV. A practice gaining in popularity is the selling of young girls as ‘virgins.’ These girls face increased risk for infection due to the immaturity of their cervix.
Trafficking of Rohingya Women to Pakistan
Gathering Strength, a report released by Images Asia, states that large scale trafficking of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh via India to Pakistan has been going on for about a decade and the number of Rohingyas in Karachi is estimated to be over 300,000. Some women are believed to be trafficked as far as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Exoduses of Rohingya refugees from Burma in 1978 and 1991/2 have coincided with influxes of immigrants into Pakistan. The refugee camps in Bangladesh have become recruiting areas for traffickers and a Bangladeshi NGO found that there have also been various cases of disappearances, abductions, rape and sexual assault of women living outside the camps. Many women are trafficked into brothels in the southern province of Sindh and some have been sold to feudal landlords as concubines. Rohingya prostitutes are extremely likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases because they have little knowledge of contraception and are afraid to visit health authorities for fear of being caught by the police. The Rohingya in Bangladesh are unwanted refugees and face the threat of repatriation and deportation to Burma where they are deprived of citizenship and face atrocities committed by the military junta. This and the conditions of the refugee camps where they are unable to meet their most basic needs means that being trafficked is often the only option for survival. A woman’s education, appearance, virginity or lack there of, and age all lend to her price. Bangladeshi traffickers make from US $1,285 to $2,428 per woman. During the journey to Pakistan the women are vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse whether it be from traffickers, police, border guards or while in detention. (Source: Belak, Brenda, Gathering Strength: Women from Burma on Their Rights. Images Asia, January 2002)
Most Rohingya women lose contact with their families after they are trafficked. Therefore, there is a lack of information as to the actual work environments and circumstances they encounter once they have reached their destination. Muslim culture also allows for polygamy, therefore women who are trafficked are easily disguised as wives and proper members of the household even if they are servants. (Source: Belak, Brenda, Gathering Strength: Women from Burma on Their Rights. Images Asia, January 2002)
Not only Rohingya women are trafficked into Pakistan. There is large scale trafficking of women of other ethnic groups from Burma into Pakistan on the pretense of finding them legitimate work. However, they are then sold to third parties, mostly for prostitution, but also as domestic servants. In some cases they are sold like slaves in an open market, such as the one in Thar district of Bangladesh, in which buyers are able to examine them, molest them and harass them before buying them. At least one former minister and two members of the disbanded parliament maintain huge stakes in the business of selling women in Thar. They are often sold and resold after one buyer has used up their utility. Human rights lawyer Zia Awan says women can be bought in any Burmese slum in Karachi where 2.5 million of the residents are illegal.
The Dhaka Ahsania Mission, a Bangladeshi NGO, reported one case to Images Asia in 1998 in which a bus carrying 71 passengers, mostly women and children, was intercepted on its way from Cox’s Bazaar to Benpole on the Indian border, after the bus driver got suspicious. It was found that all the passengers were going to be trafficked illegally to India and after the passengers gave fake addresses in Cox’s Bazaar to the police, it was assumed that they were all Rohingya.
7.6 Rape and sexual violence - Partial list of incidents
Incidences of Rape and Killing
Rape and Killing of Displaced Farmers From Kun-Hing, in Murng-Nai
In February 2002, 3 displaced farmers, 1 man and 2 women, were beaten to death, the women being raped before being killed, by SPDC troops from Kun-Hing-based IB246 at a deserted (relocated) village, Kung Nyawng, in Kun Mong village tract, Murng-Nai township, Shan State. The 3 victims were:
1. Zaai Ku (m), aged 20, son of Lung Saw-Zin and Pa Nyunt
2. Naang Awng (f), aged 27, daughter of Lung Kham and Pa Maad
3. Naang Ong Khin (f), aged 23, daughter of Lung Zaam and Pa Naang Long
These people were originally villagers of Saai Khaao village in Saai Khaao village tract, Kun-Hing township, which had been forcibly relocated to Kun-Hing town by Burmese army troops in 1996-97. In early January 2002, when villagers of Saai Khaao village were told by SPDC authorities to return to their original village, these 3 villagers were among those who returned.
On 5 February, the 3 victims, Zaai Ku, Naang Awng and Naang Ong Kin were going to their farm outside Saai Khaao village, which they had returned to about a month before, when they ran into a column of about 60 SPDC troops from IB246 at Paang Maw bridge north of Saai Khaao village. The SPDC troops were on their way from Kun-Hing to the area of Kaeng Tawng in Murng-Naai township. When they saw the 3 villagers, the troops forced them to go with them until they reached a deserted village, Kung Nyawng, in Kun Mong village tract, Murng-Nai township, where they stopped for a rest and spent the night.
The 2 women were first raped by the SPDC commander of the column and then handed over to his troops, and were then raped all night by most of them. The next day, after most of the troops had raped the women to their satisfaction, they took them to a place on the east of the deserted village and, together with the man, beat them all to death. (Source: SHRF)
Rape and Death on Valentine’s Day in Shan State
An army officer has been named by villagers who recently fled to Thailand for the rape and murder of a Shan girl just before her marriage.
According to the refugees, Captain Kyaw Myint, Company 4, LIB 515 (Laikha) had raped and murdered Nang Liengsa, 18, of Wan-khai village, Panghsang Tract, Laikha Township, on 14 February in the woods outside the town. Her body was found two days later after a soldier from the unit tipped off her relatives.
"The captain, during his patrol on that day, came across her picking vegetables in the woods, raped her and beat her to death because of her resistance," one villager quoted the soldier as saying.
A few days after the incident, the said officer and his men passed through the village and he was pointed out to her brother, Sai Mon, and sister-in-law, Nang Lu. One of the members of the patrol then overheard them talking about Liengsa’s death in connection with Capt Kyaw Myint and took them to him. He beat them and sentenced them to a 3-month imprisonment.
"She was already engaged to be married to Sai Awng Myint, one of our own villagers, this month," said one, "Her death broke his heart".
Liengsa was one of those thousands of people who were forcibly moved to Laikha from her home village in 1997, when the massive 4 cuts campaign was launched by Rangoon against the Shan State Army of Yawdserk. (Source: SHRF)
A Woman Raped and Killed, Her Brother and Sister-in-Law Tortured and Detained, in Lai-Kha
On 14 February 2002, a woman was taken away by a patrol of about 28 SPDC troops from Co.4 of LIB515, led by commander Kyaw Myint and later raped and killed in a forest near a relocation site in the outskirts of Lai-Kha town, Shan State.
Naang Leng Sa, aged 18, was originally from Wan Khaai village in Paang Saang village tract, Lai-Kha township, which had been forcibly relocated to Lai-Kha town relocation site by the Burmese army troops in 1997.
On the day of the incident, Naang Leng Sa was gathering wild vegetables some distance outside the relocation site when a patrol of the said SPDC troops came by and forced her to go with them.
About 2 days later, on 16 February, there was news that some villagers were told by someone from a Burmese army unit that Naang Leng Sa had been raped and killed by the SPDC troops and her body left in a forest.
Her relatives and some village leaders then went in search and found Naang Leng Sa’s body in the forest some distance from the relocation site. They then cremated her body and 7 days later conducted a funeral rite at the relocation village.
A few days after the funeral, Naang Leng Sa’s elder brother and his wife were taken to the military base by the SPDC troops. They were accused of trying to defame the Burmese army by spreading news that Burmese soldiers had raped and killed their sister.
They were interrogated and beaten until they lost consciousness several times, and finally they were put in jail. It was said that they would be locked up for 3 months. It was learned that Naang Leng Sa was engaged to a young villager and was set to be married in April 2002.(Source: SHRF)
10 Displaced Farmers Shot Dead In Group, A Woman Raped and Her Husband Beaten to Death, in Lai-Kha.
In mid-June 2002, a patrol of SPDC troops from LIB515 surrounded a group of 11 displaced farmers, shot dead 10 of them and forced 1 to serve as a guide at a remote farm some 7 miles west of Lai-Kha town. A few days later they raped a woman and beat her husband to death at a remote farm some 11 miles north of the town.
The 11 displaced farmers belonged to the same extended family originally from Nawng Zem village in Haai Seng village tract, Lai-Kha township, which had been forcibly relocated to the outskirts of Lai-Kha town in 1997 by the then SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) troops. They managed to survive the hard years at the relocation site by secretly growing rice at remote farms and working as day labourers.
On 11 June 2002, a patrol of about 35 SPDC troops from LIB515, led by Capt. Maung Win of Company No.4, came to a remote farm about 7 miles west of Lai-Kha town and rounded up the said 11 farmers, including 10 young men and women and a middle-aged man, Lung Puk, aged 57, who was the head of the family.
The SPDC troops accused the farmers of supporting Shan soldiers with rice and food and shot 10 of them dead, leaving only Lung Puk to be used as a guide. The SPDC troops then told Lung Puk that they had killed the farmers because they had given help to the Shan soldiers who were fighting against them and forced him to guide them to search the area for 3 days before releasing him.
On 15 June 2002, after releasing Lung Puk, the SPDC troops continued to search the area and came to another remote farm about 11 miles north of Lai-Kha town, where a young couple of displaced farmers had been working.
The couple, Zaai Taan Nyunt and Naang Mo (not her real name), from (——) village (name withheld to protect the rape survivor) in Naa Mang village tract, Lai-Kha township, were going to their farm when they ran into the said SPDC troops at the edge of the farm. The couple was seized by the troops and taken to different places.
The officer, a Sergeant Major or a Second Lieutenant, who took away Naang Mo raped her, and then let 10 of his troops rape her until she lost consciousness. Zaai Taan Nyunt was beaten to death some distance north of the farm.
When Naang Mo regained consciousness, it was around 4 o’clock in the afternoon and she was alone in a forest some distance away from her farm. She tried to find her husband in and around the farm for a while but could not find him, so she returned to the village and related her plight to her relatives and fellow villagers, but they could do nothing that evening because it was getting dark.
The next day, about 20 villagers went in search of Zaai Taan Nyunt and found his dead body where he was beaten to death north of the farm. The villagers then buried his body properly where it was found and on the 7th day of his death conducted a funeral for him at a Buddhist temple according to their tradition.
Naang Mo was said to have been suffering from sickness and weakness since her ordeal up to the time this report was received. (Source: SHRF)
IB No. 62 Soldiers Killed 5 Mon Villagers After Raped a Girl
About 4 o’clock in the morning, four soldiers from Burmese Army’s Infantry Battalion No. 62 shot five Mon villagers in a village in Thanbyuzayat Township in Mon State, after they raped a young Mon girl.
Four soldiers of IB No. 62, whose base is in Thanbyuzayat town, were patrolling in the area along the Thanbyuzayat - Ye motor road and a gas-pipeline nearby. They went into a Mon village called "Ganaing-padaw" in the early morning. Ganaing-padaw village is situated about 9 kilometers in the southeastern part of Thanbyuzayat Town.
When they arrived to the village, they went to the village secretary, Nai Kun Tit’s house but did not wake up Nai Kun Tit. They met his grand-daughter, Mi Eat Sar (16 years old and a school girl from a middle level school in a village nearby), who was cooking rice to give food donations to the monks in the dawn according to Buddhist tradition.
Four soldiers, including a soldier named Thein Naing (Burmese Army’s ID Number 176399), climbed into the house and raped the girl. While the soldiers were raping the girl, Nai Kun Tit woke up and tried to help her, but as he knew the soldiers had guns he ran out of his house to the garden entrance and shouted to the other villagers for help.
One soldier shot him because of his shouting. He fell down in the entrance of the garden and died on the spot. The soldiers quarreled with each other because some of them disagreed with shooting the man. Then they shot at each other.
After several shots went off in the house, the other family members woke up and ran around in the house while the soliders were still shooting at each other. Then another four villagers, including Mi Eat Sar, the rape victim, were shot by soldiers. They also died on the spot with many other injuries. The villagers who were killed in this incident are:
(1) Nai Kun Tit (66 years old), the secretary of the village,
(2) Mi Kun Bae (60 years old), wife of Nai Kun Tit,
(3) Mi Eat Sar (16 years old), raped victim and grand-daughter of Nai Kun Tit,
(4) Min Chit Ko (20 years old), grandson of Nai Kun Tit, and
(5) Nai Wet Tae (42 years old), labourer for Nai Kun Tit’s farm.
Due to the shooting at each other, a IB No. 62 soldier, Thein Naing, received serious injuries and fell down in the kitchen of the house. In the morning, the army officers from Thanbyuzayat’s IB No. 62 headquarters came and inquired about the incident. When they found their men really were involved with shooting the innocent villagers, they told the villagers to change the news so that everyone thought the villagers were killed in the middle of fighting that happened between rebels and their battalions.
IB No. 62 base is in Thanbyuzayat Town, which is about 80 miles from Moulmein, the capital of Mon State. Its main responsibility is to maintain the security of the area and the Kanbauk-Myaingkalay gas-pipeline.(Source: HURFOM)
8 Displaced Farmers Raped and Killed in a Group in Murng-Pan
On 24 September 2002, 8 displaced farmers, including 5 men and 3 women, were beaten and shot to death, the women being raped before being killed, by a patrol of SPDC troops from LIB502, led by Capt. Soe Naing, at Tawng Kwaai Tai village (deserted) in Tawng Kwaai village tract, Murng-Pan township, Shan State.
The 8 displaced farmers were originally from Tawng Kwaai Tai village which had been forcibly moved to Ho Phaai Long village tract by the Burmese army troops some years ago. These farmers had managed to get permission from the SPDC authorities of Murng-Pan township and, with a pass given by the township office, had been going to work at their original rice fields at their old village since May 2002.
On the day of the incident, however, the said patrol of 40-45 SPDC troops from LIB502, led by Capt. Soe Naing, came and rounded up the farmers who were working in the fields. The farmers were kept for one night, during which the 3 women were raped by the SPDC troops. They were all killed on the next day.
The victims were:
1. Lung Kaw-Ya (m), aged 48
2. Lung Kan-Ta-Ma (m), aged 47
3. Zaai Wan-Na (m), aged 45
4. Zaai Pae-Ti (m), aged 36
5. Zaai Kat-Ti-Ya (m), aged 32
6. Naang Lu (f), aged 31
7. Naang Thun Nae (f), aged 29
8. Naang Zing Nyunt (f), aged 25
Where their bodies were found, the women’s were lying separately about 20-25 yards from one another with no clothes on whatsoever and there were signs of severe beating and rape on all of them. The men’s bodies were lying together but only one had bullet holes; the others had bruises and wounds all over, apparently beaten to death. The women were also beaten to death. (Source: SHRF)
Husband Shot Dead, Wife Gang-Raped, in Murng-Khark
On 28 September 2002, 2 villagers, husband and wife, from Nam Wok village, who were going to Murng-Khark town market were stopped on the way by SPDC troops from IB227 after which the husband was shot dead and the wife gang-raped by the troops.
Naang Noi (not her real name), aged 21, and her husband, from Nam Wok village in Nam Wok village tract, Murng-Khark township, were going together to the town market when they ran into a group of the said SPDC troops at a remote spot between their village and the town. The SPDC troops shot dead the husband, gang-raped the wife and left the site when they finished, leaving Naang Noi and her dead husband at the site. (Source: SHRF)
Rape and Killing of 10 Displaced Farmers in Kun-Hing & Nam-Zarng
On 2 October 2002, 10 displaced farmers, including 6 men and 4 women, from Kun-Hing relocation site were beaten to death, the women being raped before being killed, by a patrol of SPDC troops from IB66, near Nam Wo village (deserted) in Nam-Zarng township.
The 10 displaced farmers were originally from Nam Wo village in Haai Laai village tract, Nam-Zarng township, which had been forcibly relocated to Kun-Hing township at the relocation site on the outskirts of Kun-Hing town in 1996 by the then SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) troops.
These farmers had been given permission by the local SPDC military authorities of Kun-Hing-based IB246 to go and cultivate their farms at their original old village, Nam Wo. On the day of the incident, while the farmers were working at their farms a patrol of SPDC troops from Nam-Zarng-based IB66 came and arrested them.
All the 10 farmers were later beaten to death by the SPDC troops; the women were raped before being killed. Their bodies were scattered in and on the edge of a farm near Nam Wo village. The 10 victims were:
1. Lung Zan-Da Lam (m), aged 48
2. Zaai Taw-Ling (m), aged 28
3. Zaai Phaw-Ka (m), aged 35
4. Zaai Long (m), aged 31
5. Zaai Mu-Lung (m), aged 28
6. Zaai Maad (m), aged 27
7. Naang Seng (f), aged 26
8. Naang Zing Lu (f), aged 24
9. Naang Nae (f), aged 22
10. Naang Thuay (f), aged 20 (Source: SHRF)
6 Sugarcane Cutters Beaten to Death, Women Raped Before Being Killed
On 3 October 2002, a group of 6 displaced villagers, comprising of 3 couples of husbands and wives, from Son Oi village in Son Oi village tract, Larng-Khur township, who were working at a sugarcane plantation were arrested and detained for one night, during which the women were raped, and beaten to death by a patrol of SPDC troops from IB248, led by Capt. Myint Oo. The 6 victims were:
1. Zaai Wan (m), aged 22
2. Zaai Mu Ling (m), aged 25
3. Zaai Nya Na (m), aged 26
4. Naang Nae (f), aged 20
5. Naang Non (f), aged 24
6. Naang Sing (f), aged 26
These villagers were originally from Son Oi village in Son Oi tract, Larng-Khur township, which had been forcibly relocated to Nawng Long village in Nawng Long village tract, Larng-Khur township, in 1996 by the then SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) troops.
On the day of the incident, the 3 couples were hired by an original owner of a sugarcane plantation to cut sugarcane near Son Oi village (deserted) and, while they were cutting sugarcane, were seized by a patrol of about 40-50 SPDC troops from Co.4 of IB248, led by Capt. Myint Oo.
The SPDC troops detained the villagers for one night and finally beat all of them dead. The bodies of the women were scattered 10-12 yards from one another with no clothes on, and there were clear signs of them being raped. It was not clear for what reason these villagers were killed. (Source: SHRF)
Mother Killed, Daughter Raped in Kaeng-Tung
On 6 October 2002, Pa Kham (not her real name), aged 51, was killed and her daughter, Naang Man (not her real name), aged 15, was raped by 2 SPDC troops from IB245, at their house in Paang Hung village, Paang Law village tract, Kaeng-Tung township, Shan State.
Pa Kham was a single mother who lived with her teenage daughter, Naang Man, at Paang Hung village and they made a living by cultivating a vegetable garden near their village. In the evening of the said day, after they had returned home from their vegetable garden, 2 SPDC troops suddenly came into their house.
When the 2 SPDC troops saw Naang Man cooking alone in the house, they grabbed her and raped her right in the middle of the house. As she was grabbed by the troops, Naang Man managed to shout out a couple of times, and her mother came out of the bedroom.
When Pa Kham saw her daughter being attacked and raped by the SPDC troops, she shouted at them and grabbed a kitchen knife as if to strike at them. One of the troops then jumped up and kicked Pa Kham, causing her to fall down, and struck her with a rifle butt several times in the head
Pa Kham died instantly of the beating and Naang Man was raped by the 2 SPDC troops until they had satisfied themselves. After the troops left the house, Naang Man cried and went to report her plight to the village headman, who in turn reported it to the head of people’s militia in the area.
Although the head of the people’s militia listened to the case and said he would take it further to the regional military commander, no action has so far been taken in relation to this case at the time of this report. (Source: SHRF)
Incidences of Rape
On 19 February 2002 in Mergui Tavoy District, an SPDC militia-man, Win Nyunt, raped two girls from Pa-na-mi village. The victims were (1) Naw Leh Say, F-17, daughter of Pati Gaw Lar and Mwa Mu, (2) Naw Mu Mu, F-18, daughter of Parti Posi and Mu Naw Pee.(Source: KNU)
On 11 February 2002, some troops from SPDC IB-10 under LID-88 came to Mae-thraw-hta in Kaw-kareik township, Dooplaya district and threatened by pointing their guns at Naw Moolah Aing 16, daughter of U Maung Htun Aye, and Ma Cho Win 18, daughter of U Myint Sein and took them away. When they got outside of the village, the troops tied them up with ropes and raped them. No action was taken against the troops who committed the rape.(Source: KNU)
In the first week of March 2002, a column of Burmese troops from LIB No. 428, led by Nyi Nyi Min, were temporarily stationed at Markrawshe village, on their way back from the frontline. One night during the week, at about 23:00, two soldiers from this column went to a private residence and tried to rape Pray Moe, a mother of six. Pray Moe’s husband woke up and tried to stop them but was beaten by the soldiers. (Source: KNAHR)
On 8 June 2002, troops from SPDC IB 77 ordered Kya-ka-wa and Ka-toe-hta villages in Kaw-ka-rik Township, Dooplaya district to relocate to Aung-lan village and looted from villagers 15 baskets of rice and 15 chickens. These troops raped Naw Paw Gay, wife of Kya-ka-wa village head and also seized and took away 59 unmarried people, both male and female, from the village.(Source: KNU)
On 17 August 2002, SPDC Captain Zaw Min Oo and his troops found Jekly (daughter of Martino and Maytilar), 14, working in a maize field and attempted to rape her. Her uncle, who witnessed the incident, reported it at the village monthly meeting on 27 August. The village chief then reported the incident to LIB No. 530 so that legal action might be taken. During the battalion commander’s investigation, two Corporals, Kae Reh and Khin Zaw, indicted their commander Zaw Min Oo. Captain Zaw Min Oo is still under investigation. (Source: KNAHR)
On 25 August 2002, Maw Lee Meh, 17, from Daw Tamadu village, Deemaw Soe Township, was raped by SPDC private Myint Lwin from IB No. 530 while she was alone at home. She told her parents about the rape when they returned from their paddy field the next day. Her parents, seeking justice, reported the incident to the column commander Myint Soe. However, Myint Soe took no action and threatened the family with death if they talk about the rape with other people. (Source: KNAHR)
On 21 October 2002, in Nyaung-lay-bin District, Karen State troops from SPDC guerrilla unit led by Bo Hla Min raped, at Theh-saw-lor-klo place, Ma Myint Thein aged 28 of Thein-dar ward, Kyaukkyi town, daughter of U Kway Ni and Daw Ma Wet. (Source: KNU)
On 23 October 2002, in Nyaung-lay-bin District, Karen State, troops from SPDC guerrilla unit led by Bo Sai Hla Shwe raped, beside Bway Kho motor road near Kho-po, Naw Ka Toe aged 20, mother of one child, of Pa-aw-taw village, Kyaukkyi Township, daughter of Saw Maung Ta and Daw Khin Htay Kyi. (Source: KNU)
2 Displaced Women Raped in Kun-Hing
In early January 2002, 2 displaced women who were returning from their farm were taken by a passing patrol of SPDC troops from IB246 and raped for several days and nights at Wan Lao village (deserted) in Kun-Hing township, Shan State.
The 2 victims, Naang Mi Awng (not her real name), aged 27 and Naang Khin (not her real name), aged 23, were originally from Nawng Lom village in Saai Khaao village tract, Kun-Hing township, that had been forcibly relocated to the outskirts of Kun-Hing town some years ago by the then SLORC troops.
On 9 January 2002, the 2 women were returning from their farm in Saai Khaao tract, where they had gone to work on permission from the SPDC authorities in Kun-Hing, when they ran into a patrol of about 50-60 SPDC troops who forced them to go with them.
The patrol was from Kun-Hing-based IB246 and was heading towards Kaeng Tawng area of Murng-Nai township when they met the 2 women near Saai Khaao village (deserted). The troops forced the women to go with them until they reached Wan Lao village where they stopped for 4 days and 3 nights.
During those days and nights, the 2 women were raped by one soldier after another most of the time and they were slapped and kicked when they tried to refuse any soldiers who approached them. After they were released and got back home, they continued to suffer from what they had been through for quite some time and their husbands and relatives were outraged but could do nothing and dared not complain to anyone. (Source: SHRF)
Rape Attempt Against a Mon teacher
(Ye Township, Mon State)
On 5 January 2002, a Sergeant from LIB No. 343 attempted to rape a Mon teacher, Mi Ai Chan, at about 7:00 o’clock in the evening at Pram-maw village, Ye Township, Mon State.
LIB No. 343 is based in Pran-maw and that evening, the army Sergeant sneaked into the teacher’s house, while she was alone. Then he tried to rape her. So, she called for help and the villagers in the surrounding area arrived to arrest him. As the villagers knew that that Sergeant had already tried to rape the teacher for many days, they were quick to stop his attempt. (Source: HURFOM)
3 Women Raped for 3 Nights in Larng-Khur
On 7 January 2002, 3 travelling women from Murng-Nai were detained for 3 days and nights and raped by SPDC troops at the base of IB99, in Larng-Khur township.
Naang Wun Ki, aged 16, from Kung Nyawng village in Kun Mong village tract, Murng-Nai township and Naang Thun Mint, aged 17, from Kung Kyawng village in the same village tract, were travelling with Pa Thawn, an older woman from Kun Mong village who had travelling experience and knew the way, to the border with Thailand to find their relatives.
When the car they were travelling in arrived at Larng-Khur town, they were stopped and checked at a police checkpoint, but were let go after a brief search by the police. When they reached a military checkpoint, they were stopped and checked again.
When the SPDC troops manning the checkpoint saw the 2 girls, they ordered them to get out of the car and said that they could not let them go yet. Pa Thawn said that she could not go without the 2 girls and stopped with them.
When evening came, Pa Thawn took the 2 girls to the house of her friend in Lurng-Khur town to stay for the night. However at about 8:00 p.m. 5 SPDC troops came to that house and said that they would take Naang Wun Ki and Naang Thun Mint to see their captain at the military base for questioning just for a short while and they would bring them back right away,but Pa Thawn insisted on going with them and the troops finally had to let her accompany them.
As they got into the IB99 military base, the women were separated and Pa Thawn was taken to a different place and interrogated. The troops asked her whether she had ever taken rice to give to rebel soldiers and many other questions about the rebels. After that she was kept and raped by Capt. Aung Hpyu of Co.1 for 3 nights.
The 2 girls were kept and raped by the commander of IB99, Ong Myint Kyaw, also for 3 nights after which all the 3 women were released. Despite their horrible experiences, the women continued their journey and reached the Thai border on 16 January 2002. (Source: SHRF)
3 Farming Women Raped in Lai-Kha
On 4 February 2002, 3 women who were working at their farm were raped by SPDC troops from LIB 519 at their farm huts in Lai-Kha township, Shan State. A column of about 160 SPDC troops from LIB519 were patrolling the rural areas of adjacent Murng-Nai, Nam-Zarng and Lai-Kha township and on the day of the incident came to a remote farm in Lai-Kha township, somewhere between Kho Lam village in Nam-Zarng township and Lai-Kha town, where there were 3 small farm huts clustered together.
The SPDC troops went to the huts and ordered the people inside to come out. When the troops saw only 3 women, one from each hut, they asked about their men folk and the women said their men had gone to get some food at their village and had not yet returned.
There were 3 families from Maak Laang village in Naa Poi village tract, Lai-Kha township staying at that farm and the men had run away and hidden in the forest before the troops reached the farm. Even though the farmers had a pass or permission from the local SPDC troops, they were still too afraid to face an SPDC patrol.
The 3 women were then forced back into their huts and raped by the SPDC troops. Naang Zing (not her real name), aged 18, was forced into her hut and raped by the commander himself. The other 2, Naang Khawng (not her real name), aged 22 and Naang Thun (not her real name), aged 28, were also forced back into their own huts and raped by several other officers.
After raping the women for 3 hours, from 13:00 to 16:00 hrs., the SPDC troops left the women at the farm and continued to patrol the areas. (Source: SHRF)
A Woman Molested in Kaeng-Tung
On 12 February 2002, a woman who was fetching water from a well some distance from her village was molested by an SPDC Sergeant, Khin Maung Win, from LIB314 near Nawng Kung village in Kaeng-Tung township.
In the evening of that day, as it was a custom for village women to fetch water from the well outside the village in the evening, Naang Ai (not her real name), aged 19, went to fetch water. As she was returning from the well, carrying 2 pails of water with a shoulder pole, a drunken SPDC soldier came after her and asked for her love. He was Sergeant Khin Maung Win from LIB314 and was looking very drunk.
Naang Ai was frightened and tried to walk as fast as she could, but the soldier came after her and at one point grabbed her by the hand. She shouted for help but no one seemed to hear her and he dragged her towards a nearby bamboo grove.
Naang Ai then threw down her shoulder pole and struggled with all her strength She managed to free herself and ran into the village shouting for help. The soldier fled the scene.
Naang Ai and her parents and relatives later tried to file a complaint at a law court in Kaeng-Tung town, but no one seemed to be interested in the case or dared to take action against the culprit. No action related to this case has been taken up to the time of this report. (Source: SHRF)
Mothers of Small Children Conscripted as Porters, and Raped, in Murng-Nai
On 27 February 2002, people in Kaeng Tawng area in Murng-Nai township, including many women who were mothers of small children, were conscripted by a column of SPDC troops from LIB519 to serve the military as unpaid porters for 9 consecutive days, during which the women were raped at night by the troops.
A column of SPDC troops from Murng-Ton-based LIB519, led by Capt. Zaw Win, were patrolling the rural areas of Kun-Hing and Murng-Nai township. On the day of the incident, the troops came to Kaeng-Tawng area in Murng-Nai township and conscripted more civilian porters.
These SPDC troops did not even notify the village and village tract leaders about their conscripting of civilian porters in the area. It was late in the morning and most men had gone to work elsewhere and were not to be found in their houses, so the troops took the women who could not go to work with the men because they had small children.
The civilian porters were forced to carry military rations, ammunition and clothes etc., starting from Ton Hung village relocation site in Kaeng Tawng area in Murng-Nai township, to Murng-Pan town in Murng-Pan township.
The journey took about 9 days, from 27 February to 7 March, during which they stopped for rest at nights either in the jungle or deserted villages. During those nights, all the women were said to have been raped by the SPDC troops every night.
The following were some of the known civilian porters conscripted from Kaeng-Tawng area on that occasion:
1. Naang Kham (f) (not her real name) aged 32 had a 10-month-old baby
2. Naang Mya (f) (not her real name) aged 43 had a 1-year-old child
3. Naang U (f) (not her real name) aged 27 had a 7-month-old baby
4. Naang Myint (f) (not her real name) aged 28 had a 2-year-old child
5. Naang Paang (f) (not her real name) aged 36 had a 2-year-old child
6. Naang Zaam (f) (not her real name) aged 31 had a 3-year-old child
7. Naang Yong (f) (not her real name) aged 46 had a 3-year-old child
8. Naang Zern (f) (not her real name) aged 28 had a 1-year-old child
9. Naang Tong (f) (not her real name) aged 19 had a 7-month-old baby
10. Zaai Mawng Nyunt(m) aged 17
11. Zaai Mung (m) aged 19
12. Zaai Taan (m) aged 18
13. Lung Awng Sa (m) aged 51
14. Lung Kham Leng(m) aged 53 (Source: SHRF)
Displaced Farmers Robbed, Beaten, Forced to Go As Porters And Raped in Kun-Hing
In March and early April 2002, a man was severely beaten at a remote farm and 2 women were taken to serve the military by SPDC troops from IB246 for 15 days during which they were repeatedly raped by the troops.
On 18 March 2002, a patrol of about 80 SPDC troops from Co.2 of IB246, led by commander Myint Maung, came upon a remote farm, about 7 miles south of Kun-Hing town, and arrested the following man and 2 women they found there:
1. Lung Mu-Lin (m), aged 54
2. Naang Sa (f) (not her real name), aged 30
3. Naang Yaen (f) (not her real name), aged 15
The troops then looted the farm, taking all they wanted, including chickens, pigs and other food stuff, and beat Lung Mu-Lin so severely that he lost some teeth and suffered from a fractured skull. Later his relatives had to take Lung Mu-Lin to Kun-Hing town hospital to receive treatment, which cost him 3,100 Kyat.
The 2 women were forced to go with the troops and after being forced to serve day and night as sex slaves for 15 days, they were released at Wan Lao village. They were so weak and pale after their release that they had to be taken by their relatives to Kun-Hing town hospital and treated for 10 days, which cost each of them 6,600 Kyat.
These displaced farmers were originally from Naa Khaa Own village in Kaeng Kham village tract, Kun-Hing township, which had been forcibly relocated to Kun-Hing town in 1997 by the then SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) troops. Since there was no land for them to farm near the town, they had to go far from the town to grow rice for their survival.
There were 7 members in that family but, fortunately, 4 of them were at the Kun-Hing town relocation site on the day of the incident, and only the 3 that were at the farm had fallen victims to the passing SPDC troops’ patrol. (Source: SHRF)
A Girl Gang Raped, Her Pigs Stolen, in Kun-Hing
On 29 April 2002, SPDC troops from IB246 raped a 17-year-old girl and stole away 2 of her pigs, at Kun-Hing town relocation site, Kun-Hing township.
Naang Laai (not her real name), aged 17, was originally from Kaeng Lom village, Kaeng Lom tract, which had been forcibly relocated to the outskirts of Kun-Hing town in 1996 by the then SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) troops. Naang Laai and her parents managed to survive at the relocation site by breeding some pigs and chickens and occasionally working as day labourers.
On the day of the incident, Naang Laai’s parents had gone to work as day labourers at someone else’s farm and she was left alone at home to feed their pigs and chickens. When a group of 8-10 SPDC troops from IB246 who were patrolling in the area passed by the house and learned that she was alone, they seized her and gang-raped her.
After raping Naang Laai, the SPDC troops seized 2 of her pigs, each weighing about 28 kilograms. The market price of pork in the area at that time was about 150 Kyat per kg.
Although later Naang Laai and her parents reported the incident to the community leaders, no one dared to take the case further, saying that with the Burmese army troops they could not win the case and could even be further abused and money extorted. Even though Naang Laai knew the SPDC soldiers who raped her and stole her pigs, they would not let her see them. (Source: SHRF)
Immigration Official Raped a Young Mon Woman
On 14 June 2002, an official of Ye Township’s SPDC immigration department raped a 22 year old young Mon woman after she was arrested by officials for illegally migrating to Thailand.
On that day, the Deputy Chief of the Township Immigration Department, U Than Win (about 40 years old), checked the passengers from all trucks on the Ye river bridge, the largest bridge in town and arrested 23 Mon villagers who were suspected to be migrating to Thailand to seek work. The group included 22 year old unmarried Mi K— H—, from Lamine village, Ye Township, Mon State.
The group of villagers, including 2 traffickers, were brought by the officials and policemen to the police station to face trial. The officials took 700 000 Kyat from the traffickers and villagers. When they put the 2 traffickers on trial, the migrant villagers were needed as witnesses in the court.
For the release of these villagers, the officials also requested money. Some villagers paid the bribes to the officials and then they were released. However, the young woman could not pay in advance and appealed to pay later. U Than Win did not accept her offer and took her to a house and raped her for the whole night. The next day, he released the woman so that she could return to her home. The woman told her parents about the rape and they informed the officers from military intelligence and asked them to handle the case. Until now, they still do not know if the official will be punished or not.(Source: HURFOM)
Rape Case in Kya-inn-seikyi Township, Karen State (June 2002)
On 7 June 2002, when the troops of IB No. 34 went into a Karen village in Kya-inn-seikyi Township, the second commander raped a married Karen woman at night at about 10 o’clock.
About 60 troops (a company) of IB No. 34 went into this Karen village, Phar-pya, during their military operation against KNLA troops in the area. The second commander of the troop company, Captain Aung Myint raped a 27 year old Karen woman, Naw Win Yee.
The troops arrived to the village in the evening and the commander rested in her house with some of his soldiers while Naw Win Yee’s husband, Saw Khin Aye, was still in the house. Saw Khin Aye is a fisherman and he always leaves to find fish in a stream near the village at night time.
About 8 o’clock, when the dark came and after taking dinner, her husband left for the stream, however he never suspected that the Burmese soldiers would rape his wife.
At night time about 10 o’clock, the commander, who slept in the outer space of the house, went into the inner room where Naw Win Yee was sleeping with her one-year-old baby. He grabbed her, closed her mouth, and threatened to kill her if she shouted. Then the commander raped the woman while his soldiers were taking respite in the house compound.
After he raped her, he left her room. The woman fled to the neighbouring houses without taking her baby because she was too afraid and could not manage herself. While she was in her neighbour’s house her baby cried loudly, but she did not dare to return to her house to get the baby. So a group of elder women went to her house, retrieved the baby and gave it to the woman to feed.
The next day, the villagers went to the village chairman and told him about the incident. Although the villagers urged him to report the case to the commander of the troop company, he was afraid of bring mistreated by the Burmese commanders. He did not inform the commander.
Sexual violations against ethnic women in rural areas by the members of the Burmese Army have often occurred while they operate military activities against the rebel armed forces. As the women in the ethnic rural areas are always suspected as rebel-supporters, they continually suffer from rape. The rape of women in rural areas is becoming normal practice for members of the Burmese Army and whenever they have chance, they try to rape women. (Source: HURFOM)
A Woman Raped in Her House in Nam-Zarng
On 26 June 2002, 2 SPDC soldiers from IB66 raped an 18-year-old woman in her house at (——) village (name withheld to protect the rape survivor) in Nam-Zarng township.
On the day of the incident, Naang Hom (not her real name), aged 18, was alone at home when 2 SPDC soldiers from Nam-Zarng-based IB66 came to her house and asked her to sell them one of her 2 small pigs.
Naang Hom said that she could not sell them because she had only just bought the pigs a month ago and they were still too small, weighing only about 5-6 viss each (1 viss = 1.6 kg), and that she needed to raise them for some more months. The soldiers said they wanted to discuss it further and told her to go into the house.
When Naang Hom said they could just talk outside the house because there was no one inside, the SPDC soldiers said they just wanted to ask for some sticky rice from her because they were very hungry.
As Naang Hom went into the house to get the rice, the 2 soldiers went after her and, when they were sure there was no one else inside the house, seized her. Naang Hom struggled to get free and shouted out for help but after she had shouted one time, the soldiers firmly covered her mouth with their hands and held her tightly to the floor, threatening to kill her if she made more noise.
Both SPDC soldiers raped Naang Hom to their satisfaction and left the house. A neighbouring friend who was home at that time and heard Naang Hom’s voice later asked her about it, and she related her plight to her. (Source: SHRF)
Rape and Beating, Causing Permanent Disability, in Murng-Nai
On 26 June 2002, a vegetable gatherer was raped by an SPDC Sergeant from LIB324 near Waeng Kao village in Kaeng Tawng area, Murng-Nai township, Shan State, and was beaten with a rifle butt so severely that one of her legs became permanently disabled.
Pa Thuay (not her real name), aged 39, was from Waeng Kao village and was gathering wild vegetables outside her village when an SPDC soldier came upon her and forced her to sit down. The soldier was a Sergeant from the SPDC troops of LIB324 that were stationed at Waeng Kao.
The soldier forced Pa Thuay at gun point to lie down and started to rape her. She tried to shout 2-3 times for help but no one heard her, so the soldier raped her to his satisfaction. When the soldier finished, he said to Pa Thuay, "Why did you shout?" and beat her with his rifle butt severely several times at her waist, hip and thighs.
The beating was so severe that Pa Thuay could not get up and had to lie and shout for help until some villagers found her and took her home. Although she was treated traditionally at her home, one of her legs could not be fixed and up to the time of this report she still has to drag it along when she walks. (Source: SHRF)
Rape and Sexual Harassment in Murng-Kerng and Ho-Pong
From 26 to 30 June 2002, 3 petty-goods peddlers were forced to go with a patrol of SPDC troops from LIB514, were robbed of their goods and were raped and sexually harassed by the patrol commander, Maj. Than Zaw, in Murng-Kurng and Ho-Pong township.
On 26 June 2002, a patrol of SPDC troops from LIB514, led by Maj. Than Zaw, forced 2 women, Pa Seng, aged 35 and Ae Yaen, aged 13 (not their real names), who were peddling petty goods at Nawng Zaeng village in Murng-Kerng township, to go with them.
As the SPDC troops left Nawng Zaeng village, they met another woman peddler, Naang Awng (not her real name), aged 25, at a place called Kung Paang Turk near the village, and also forced her to go with them.
At night, when the troops stopped to sleep in a village, Maj, Than Zaw raped Ae Yaen repeatedly for the first night. They then raped Pa Seng another night and later raped one of them every night until they arrived at Nawng Mawn village in Hai Khaai village tract, Ho-Pong township, on 30 June 2002, where the 2 women were eventually released.
During that time, Naang Awng was also harassed by Maj. Than Zaw, who tried to get her go to his room, but she feigned sickness and managed to keep him away by moving to sleep in a different house where no SPDC troops were staying.
When the troops stopped at Nawng Mawn village in Ho-Pong township on 30 June 2002, Naang Awng managed to hide away and did not go with them the next day, and thus narrowly escaped from being raped.(Source: SHRF)
LIB No. 587’s Three Soldiers Raped a Mon Girl
On 8 July 2002, three soldiers from LIB No. 587 arrested an 18 year old Mon girl near Kun-doo village, southern part of Ye Township, Mon State and they proceeded to gang rape her.
The soldiers repeatedly raped the young girl, Mi Khin Htwe (the daughter of Nai At) until she lost consciousness. The rape incident occurred half way between the two Mon villages, Ayu-taung and Kun-doo, in the northern part of Ye Township. The native village of Mi Khin Htwe is Ayu-taung village.
She and her two friends (a boy and a girl) paid a visit to Kun-doo village and when they were returning to their homes in Ayu-taung village, at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, they met the 3 soldiers. As they knew the soldiers could make problems for them, they decided to return to Kun-doo village.
However, the soldiers followed and dragged Mi Khin Htwe into a rubber plantation. Although the boy who came along with her tried to stop them, the soldiers pointed their guns at him and threatened to kill him. The boy ran to Ayu-taung village, to ask for help from the villagers.
In the rubber plantation, the soldiers repeatedly raped her until she lost consciousness. When a group of villagers arrived to the place of the incident, the soldiers had already left and they only found the unconscious and injured girl laying down near a rubber tree. They carried her back to the village.
Although the villagers and the headmen knew what had happened, they did not dare to inform to the battalion commander, because they were afraid. They kept silent. Of the three soldiers, one soldier was a medic in the battalion and he could be easily recognized by the boy. The boy indicated that the other two soldiers were ordinary soldiers. LIB No. 587 has had a base near that village since 2001 and it has confiscated many hundreds acres of lands from the Kun-doo and Ayu-taung villages. (Source: HURFOM)
LIB No. 343’s Commander Threatened to Kill a Woman
On 15 July 2002, when LIB No. 343’s military column commander, Maj. Lin Oo met a woman in Ye Town, Mon State he accused her of buying food for rebel soldiers and threatened to kill her.
The Mon woman, Mi Nwe Yee (about 40 years old) is from Khawza village, in the southern part of Ye Township, where some Mon rebel groups launch military activities. When the commander met her in the market, he believed that she had bought some food for rebel soldiers.
Then he approached the woman and grabbed her arm and asked about her shopping. She said that she had bought food and materials for her home but he did not believe her and drew a knife and tried to kill her. The woman suddenly ran into the crowd in the market and escaped being killed.
As the commander and his troops regularly launch offensives in the southern part of Ye Township against a Mon armed group led by Nai Bin, he can recognize some villagers from Mon villages and so he always suspects the villagers to be supporters of the Mon armed group. (Source: HURFOM)
A Woman Gang-Raped in Lai-Kha
On 19 July 2002, a woman who was going to her rice field from her village (--) in Tan Ae village tract, Lai-Kha township, Shan State, was gang-raped by a group of 20 SPDC troops from LIB 513.
In the morning of that day, Pa Thawn (not her real name), aged 36, was taking food from her village to her rice field for those who were working there when she ran into a patrol of about 20 SPDC troops at a remote spot on the way between the village and the field.
The SPDC troops stopped Pa Thawn, seized her and took her into a roadside bush and raped her, taking turns until all of them had raped her to their satisfaction. After all of them had got what they wanted, the troops left the place, leaving Pa Thawn alone lying near the road.
Pa Thawn was so hurt and felt so much pain all over that she could not move. She was found by some of her fellow villagers some hours later and was taken home. She had not yet recovered from her ordeal and had to be treated until the time this report was received earlier this month. (Source: SHRF)
Displaced Farmers Robbed, Their 15 Year-Old Daughter Raped While Being Forced to Be A Guide, in Kun-Hing
On 3 August 2002, a patrol of about 50 SPDC soldiers from LIB 524, led by commander Htun Myint (probably a Captain), looted a remote camp of displaced farmers in Kaeng Kham tract, Kun-Hing township, and forcibly took away a 15-year-old girl to serve as a guide for 45 days, during which she was raped by the commander Htun Myint virtually every night.
The victim, Naang Seng Ying (not her real name ), aged 15, belonged to one of the two displaced farming families, originally from Naa Khaa village in Kaeng Kham tract, Kun-Hing township, which had been forcibly relocated by Burmese army troops in 1996-1997, who were staying at a remote camp in the area of their deserted old village.
There were altogether 13 men, women and children in the 2 families, but on the day the SPDC troops came to the camp, most of them had gone away to work somewhere else and there were only 4 persons left at the camp.
1. Pa Awng (f), Aged 30
2. Naang Seng Ying (f), Aged 15
3. Zaai Lu (m), Aged 5
4. Naang Peng (f), Aged 3
The troops searched the camp and took all the chickens, pigs, and food stuffs that they could find. Finally, they ordered Naang Seng Ying to go with them to serve as a guide for a short while, just to the nearest crossroad. The SPDC troops however, did not release Naang Seng Ying but forced her to go with them for 45 days while they patrolled the surrounding areas until they reached Wan Lao village in Wan Lao tract, where they released her and returned to their base in Kun-Hing.
During the 45-day period of patrolling, commander Htun Myint kept Naang Seng Ying as if she was his wife and raped her almost every night. Soon after she got back to her relatives following her release, Naang Seng Ying fell ill and became pale and weak and could not eat properly due to the long ordeal she had to undergo as a sex slave.
As her condition became worse, Naang Seng Ying’s relatives took her to the hospital in Kun-Hing town where she received treatment for 6 days and 5 nights, which cost her relatives 36,400 Kyats. However even some time after the treatment, she had not fully recovered, and is suspected to have become pregnant. (Source: SHRF)
4 Displaced Villagers Raped While Gathering Mushrooms, in Murng-Nai
On 9 August 2002, 4 women who were gathering mushrooms were raped by SPDC troops from LIB514 in the forest about 2 kilometres east of Wan Mai Paang Saa village in Kun Mong village tract, Kaeng Tawng area, Murng-Nai township.
The 4 women were originally from Kun Naa and Long Waeng villages in Kun Mong village tract, which had been forcibly relocated to Wan Mai Paang Saa village in 1996 by the then SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) troops.
The women had gone out to gather mushrooms in the forest east of their village when they ran into 4 SPDC troops from LIB574, led by a Sergeant, that had their base in the area. The troops called the women to them and asked why they had come into the forest.
The SPDC troops did not believe them when the women said they had come to gather mushrooms but accused them of either bringing food for Shan soldiers or cattle traders, and forced the women at gun point to go with them into the brush.
The 4 SPDC troops took the 4 women one-by-one to different places and raped them to their satisfaction before releasing them. The 4 victims were (not their real names):
1. Naang Zaam, aged 28
2. Naang Leng, aged 31
3. Naang Kham, aged 34
4. Naang Koi, aged 30 (Source: SHRF)
Rape During 2 Weeks of Forced Labor in Military Base, in Lai-Kha
From 8 to 21 August 2002, 2-3 village women were raped each day by an SPDC military commander while being forced to work at the base of IB292 in Lai-Kha township, Shan State.
On 3 March 2002, the commander of IB292 issued an order to the village headmen in the area to provide 5-6 young women per day to ‘help’ clear grass and weed flower beds in the military compound because some senior officers would be visiting the base in the near future.
Every day, while the women were working in the military compound, normally around the main buildings, the commander called up one woman at a time to go and work around the barrack where he had his bedroom, and eventually forced her into his bedroom and raped her. Each day, 2 to 3 younger and prettier women were raped in this way and were warned not to tell anyone about it by the commander, who also threatened to send troops to shoot dead not only the women but also their parents if they dared complain about it.
One of the rape victims, Naang Thun Nae (not her real name), aged 16, was so shocked by the experience and after she had returned home for some days she still looked sad and could still not eat and sleep properly. Finally, she related her plight to her mother and told her that she had been raped by the commander at the IB292 base on 11 August when she had to go and work at the base.
Her mother then told her father about their daughter’s plight and they both complained about it to the village leaders in the area. Naang Thun Nae and her parents, Lung Thun and Pa Tem, were originally from Paang Hu village which had been forcibly relocated to Phuay Hai village in 1997 by SLORC troops.
When the village leaders asked among the other women who had had to go for forced labour during the same time frame as mentioned above, most of them dared not speak out, but at least 2-3 courageous women did say they had been raped like Naang Thun Nae. The village leaders, however, did not dare push the case further. (Source: SHRF)
Rape in Tenasserim Division
A Burmese soldier raped a Karen woman when the troops entered a remote forced relocation site on Tenasserim riverside, Tenasserim division in southern Burma.
On 22 August 2002, the Burmese troops from Light Infantry Battalion 551 (under control of Light Infantry Division 15) entered Buthawplaw, a relocation site. On the same day, one of the soldiers went into a villager’s house in Kyawthuhta (a section in the Buthawplaw relocation site) and raped a 25 year old woman (name omitted). The next morning, the same soldier went to her house and raped her again.
The villagers dared not report the case to the responsible commander for fear of the victim’s getting into trouble and bringing shame to her family. In addition, even when reported, an event like this would not cause the Burmese commanders to take any actions. (Source: Mergui-Tavoy District Information Department, Karen National Union August )
A Vegetable Gardener Raped in Kaeng-Tung
Some time in September 2002, a woman who was weeding her vegetable garden was raped by an SPDC soldier from LIB314 in her vegetable garden outside of Zurng Tai village in Murng Lang village tract, Kaeng-Tung township.
Naang Aam Dip (not her real name), aged 26, was weeding grass alone in her vegetable garden which was not very far from her village when an SPDC soldier from LIB314 came into the garden and asked her for some garlic.
When she nodded to the SPDC soldier, meaning that he could take some garlic from the garden, the soldier suddenly came up to her and grabbed Naang Aam Dip and, holding her tight to the ground, raped her to his satisfaction right in the garden.
As soon as the soldier left, Naang Aam Dip cried and ran back into the village to tell her husband what had happened to her. Although her husband took Naang Aam Dip to the village leaders and filed a complaint with them, no one dared to take the case further. (Source: SHRF)
2 Forest Gatherers Raped in Murng- Khark
In early October 2002, 2 women were raped by a group of 6-7 SPDC troops from IB227 in the forest near Wan Ngen Tai village in Murng Ngen village tract, Murng-Khark township.
On the day of the incident, Naang Li (not her real name) and Naang Sing (not her real name), both about 18-19 years of age, of Wan Ngen Tai village went into the forest near their village to gather wild vegetables.
As they were gathering vegetables in the forest, a group of 6-7 SPDC troops from IB227 suddenly appeared and forced them into the brush at gun point and raped them. Both of them were raped by all the troops one after another until they were satisfied and left the place. (Source: SHRF)
A Laundry Woman Raped And Thrown into Water, in Kaeng-Tung
On 18 October 2002, a laundry woman who was washing clothes on the bank of the Nam Laab river was beaten and raped by 2 SPDC soldiers from LIB314 and, after being raped, thrown into the river, at Te Saai village in the quarter-3 of Kaeng-Tung town.
The victim, Naang Phat (not her real name), aged 26, married and with 3 children, was originally from Kaeng Laek village, located 2-1/2 miles east of Kaeng-Tung town, which had been forcibly moved to Te Saai village in the suburban area of the town by SPDC troops some time in 2000.
Naang Phat earned a living washing clothes for other people to help support her family at the new place. On the day of the incident, at about 14:30 hrs., as she was preparing to go home after finishing washing the clothes at the Nam Laab river, 2 SPDC soldiers approached her. She did not think they would do anything to her because it was day time and did not pay attention to them.
However, when the SPDC soldiers got close enough to Naang Phat, they suddenly seized her. She shouted for help and they beat her with their rifle butts, in her face and on her body, until she gave in and raped her to their satisfaction.
When the soldiers finished raping her, Naang Phat was virtually unconscious, and they carried her to the Nam Laab river and threw her into the water. Fortunately, Naang Phat regained full consciousness after she was carried a short distance downstream by the current and managed to climb up the bank. She had to sit and rest there for some time before she could walk slowly back to her house.
Although Naang Phat and her husband complained about her plight to their village headman and the community leader of quarter-3 of Kaeng Tung town, no one seemed to dare to take the case further to the police or SPDC township authorities. No actions are known to have been taken in relation to this case up to the time of this report, and although Naang Phat has received treatment at the town hospital for some time, scars and marks left by the rifle butts can still be seen on her face and body. (Source: SHRF)
7.7 Personal Accounts
Interview Date: February 2002
Name: [name redacted]
Township: Nam Zarng
I came to Thailand around February [date redacted], 2002, and it took about three days to get here from my village. The Burmese soldiers oppressed us. It is very difficult for us to stay in our village. For example, we cannot go out in the evening. If we go out, they might shoot us. Also, we have to do work for them and we cannot go freely to our farms. If we go to the farm, they always investigate us and accuse us of being SSA [Shan State Army]. Also, sometimes we need to stay at the fields of our farm, but we are not allowed to do this. It is also very difficult to go in the jungle. The military is also cutting all the big trees on the hills and mountains.
I had to make a farm for the military, starting by clearing the land and the place. Then we had to dig the holes to put the seeds in. Then we had to take care of the plants, and make sure that weeds do not grow. Then we had to harvest the farm. We had to grow a crop called "toe heh." After the harvest, people who had ox carts or cars had to let the military use them to transport the crops to the military camp. We had to plant these things at least for the last five years. The last time we did this was last year between around July 2001 until around October 2001. The villagers had to go every day on a rotational basis. Each rotation had to go one day a week or about four times in a month. Each time, twenty villagers had to go work for them. Men and women had to go. I only had to go a few times, and my sister and other relatives went other times. I had to dig out the tree roots. The farm was two acres, and it was in an area called [name redacted]. It was a three mile walk from my village to the farm; it took about one and half hours to walk there. We had to work between 8AM and 3PM, and if we arrived at the farm late, we had to stay later. Shan, Pa-O, Karen, and Burmans all had to work on the farm. There was more than one farm like this. Each battalion in Nam Zarng had three large farms. There are four battalions in Nam Zarng. The battalion numbers are #66, #99, #116 and the "Youth Battalion." I’m not sure why it is called the "Youth Battalion."
Children as young as eight years old had to work watching the cows in my village. The military stole these cows from other villages and brought them to our village, where the children had to watch them. The military also made a stable for the cows because there were seventeen or eighteen cows. The children had to come every day around 9AM until 5PM. The children did not get any payment. The children got a little bit of food and some clothes from a Burmese man, named [redacted], in the village, and he is a relative of a General [name redacted]. This General is based with battalion # [redacted], and he often comes to the village. He always asks to buy cows from the villagers; if the price of the cow should be 10,000 Kyat, he will only pay 5,000 Kyat. Or if the cow should be 5,000 Kyat, he will only pay 1,000 Kyat. The General will always only pay a very low price for a cow. If a villager did not sell the cow, the General would just take the cow. I saw the General take the cow from a villager in our village one time; the General took two of [name redacted]’s cows in May 2001, and one time during the past rainy season, he took [name redacted]’s cow and paid only a very low price. The children’s names, who watch the cows, are [names of four children and ages redacted]. The children have been working for two years already, and they were still working when I left the village. The parents know, and this is organized by the headman. If the children do not watch the cows, the military would ask for money to hire someone to watch the cows.
During the rainy season after helping to start the "toe heh" farm [around August 2001], I went to stay on my farm and I was not in my village very much. The military was still asking villagers to do things, but I was not there, so I don’t know the details.
During this time that I was on the farm, I met with Burmese soldiers from battalion #66. The soldiers said, "why are you staying here?" I said, "because we need to work on our farm." The soldiers said, "why do you need to stay over night?" I said, "because we have to work for you so much building a fence and making your farm, and we just want to finish our own farm." The soldiers said, "no, you cannot stay here over night because you might support the SSA." So we had to pick up all our things and go back to the village. There were three families staying there at this time. If we did not go back, the soldiers would have killed us or raped us. All but two of us went back to the village at first. My husband, [name redacted], and [name redacted]’s husband, [name redacted], stayed behind to wait for a few buffalo that had not come back yet. When the soldiers returned again and found [the two of them] there, the soldiers said, "why don’t you listen to us? Do you want to die?" Then, the soldiers took a piece of bamboo and hit [name redacted] on the back of his neck and on his back. They also hit [name redacted] on his back and on his leg. Then [both of them] came back to village and did not dare stay over night again.
I know about one rape that happened recently. In the second month of the Shan year [around January 2002], the Burmese soldiers raped [name redacted]. She is 18 years old. She is the [name redacted] wife in [name redacted] village in Nam Zarng township. At that time, [she] was carrying water back from the well, and she was carrying her six-month old baby on her back. When she arrived at the fence of the house, one soldier said, "’Pi Nang’ [Sister], stop one moment." She said, "No, I have a lot to do," and she continued to go into her house. The Burmese soldier followed her into the house, and then he knocked down the water that she was carrying. There were a lot of soldiers around the house, and she ran away from the house, and the soldiers followed her. They took her to another house where there was no one. Then, the soldiers took the baby away outside the house, and they took her into a room and raped her. The baby was crying at the time. People heard the baby crying, and they heard her shouting, "help," but the villagers could not help her. These soldiers came from battalion #66. I know about this because my older sister came to tell me. My older sister stayed next to her house, so she knew about the rape. My older sister heard the baby crying, and she heard [her] shouting, but the soldiers’ covered her mouth. Two soldiers raped [her]. Her husband, [name redacted] could not complain because the soldier told him that if he complained, he would shoot him. Her husband told me this at my house. He wanted to get other people from the village to go complain with him, but everyone was scared except for one man, whose name was [name redacted]. They went to complain to the military, saying, "your soldiers raped my wife, and I am not happy. You need to deal with this case." After that, the general called the soldiers that raped [his wife] to investigate. The general punished the soldiers by hitting them with a stick. One soldier, who was a sergeant, was demoted. Then the soldiers told [him] that they would kill him, and whenever he sees these soldiers, he is very scared.
Two months ago [in late 2001 or early 2002], the military went to meet people who were staying over night at their farms, and the soldiers said, "you are not staying here to take care of your farm but to help your Shan soldiers. If you do not go back, we will kill you."
I did not have to do forced labor myself since the end of the last rainy season because I was traveling around to other villages and visiting relatives, and then we came to Thailand. I have seen other people doing forced labor though up until when I left for Thailand.
I have never heard of Order No. 1/99. A Burmese soldier came to the village one time and told my brother and brother-in-law at a meeting, "you villagers are not happy to give Shan State to us, so we have to make you do forced labor." At that time, the soldier said, "we will not use your free labor. We will pay you for your work." The soldier did not say how to complain about forced labor and I do not know how to complain. I did not see anything change after that. The people still have to work for free. (Source: We Are Not Free to Work for Ourselves, Earth Rights International, January – May 2002)
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