Monday, June 1, 2009

Soldiers Commit Gang rape in Karen State: Villagers

The Irrawaddy News

A gang rape against an ethnic Karen woman committed by Burmese soldiers has been reported in Karen State in eastern Burma

Villagers in Kawkareik Township claimed that a 30-year-old Karen woman was taken from her farm hut to the jungle and raped by soldiers of Infantry Battalion 283 led by Capt Htay Win on May 25'09, according to the Karen Information Center, a Karen news organization.

On May 27, the UN human rights special rapporteur Sergio Pinheiro urged the UN Security Council to undertake an investigation into crimes against humanity in Burma committed by the Burmese military regime.

Pinheiro said that for the past two decades, ethnic minorities in Burma—more than one-third of the population—have not received enough of the world’s attention, adding that, “For Burma's process of national reconciliation to be successful, the
plight of the minorities must also be addressed.”

In 2007, the Karen Women’s Organization (KWO) released a report titled: “State of Terror,” highlighting the campaign of abuse against women in Karen State, including rape, torture and forced labor.

The KWO said it documented more than 4,000 cases of abuse, including rape, murder, torture and forced labor over the past few years in more than 190 villages by troops from more than 40 Burmese Army battalions. Many of the human rights violations were from late 2005 through 2006.

Many of the abuses took place during ongoing military offensives in eastern Burma since early 2006, which have displaced more than 25,000 civilians and have forced thousands of refugees to seek safety along the Thai-Burmese border, he report said.

The UN human rights envoy also advocated that the UN Security Council form a commission of inquiry into crimes against humanity and impunity in Burma.

Meanwhile, Zipporah Sein, the general secretary of the ethnic Karen National Union, said that it is time for the UN Security Council to take action against the Burmese regime’s use of systematic rape in ethnic minority areas.

In a statement, Pinheiro said that he received a report in 2000 estimating 625 women were systematically raped in Burma's Shan State over a five-year period. However, there was not a single account of a successful prosecution, he said.

The UN special rapporteur said in December 2008 a Burmese soldier went into an ethnic Karen village in eastern Burma and abducted, raped and killed a 7-year-old girl. Authorities refused to arrest the soldier; instead, officers threatened the parents with punishment if they did not accept a cash bribe to keep quiet.

During the past 15 years, the Burmese Army has destroyed more than 3,300 villages in a systematic and widespread campaign to subjugate ethnic groups, Pinheiro said. UN reports indicate that Burmese soldiers have recruited child soldiers, used civilians as minesweepers and forced thousands of villagers into slave labor, he said.

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