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Burmese troops responsible for rape

Subject: Burmese troops responsible for rape, torture: UN


A UNITED NATIONS report on Burma released yesterday documented appalling
violations of human rights, including systematic rape of women, public
dismemberment to intimidate the population and other tortures.

But a response from the Rangoon Government, included in the report, said the
allegations were unfounded and were manufactured by "anti-goverment sources
and terrorist groups, with the aim of discrediting the Government as well as
the armed forces".

The report, by special rapporteur Mr Yozo Yokota to the UN
secretary-general, for dissemination to all UN member States, avoided
drawing conclusions or condemning the reported violations.

The UN is still engaged in negotiations with Burma to improve the human
rights situation in the country, which has been ruled by military decree
since 1988.

The document noted "credible reports of instances of brutality sometimes
resulting in the killing of civilians by Myanmar military forces",
particularlt in ethnic minority areas where people were accused of being
insurgents or collaborating with them. The ethnic Karen rebels are the only
remaining insurgents fighting against the Government.

Mr Yokota's report gave examples of porters being beaten to death for
requesting a drink of water. In another case, a 56-year-old man was
reportedly killed on suspicion of passing information to rebels. "His ears
were cut off, nails were driven through his hands and legs and his tongue
was cut out," it said. "The victim died when nails were driven through the
crown of his head."

Others had their ears and noses cut off in front of others because they were
suspected of being rebel sympathisers, the report said. It also documented
the systematic abuse of women by goverment soldiers.

Violations include "the undressing of women in public, raping and
gang-raping women individually or in groups", it said. "The rape of women
serving in forced labour camps or as porters is said to be common."

"Some of the allegations received indicate that soldiers view rape as a
right and that sometimes it is encouraged by officers and that women are
sometimes singled out for portering or other forced labour in order to be
raped," the UN report said.

The report also noted the names of 15 members of parliament who had been
arrested and detained and said an unknown number of civilians had been
arrested on suspicion of insurgent activities. (AFP).

[By correspondents in New York].

(THE AUSTRALIAN, November 8, 1995, page 8).