Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two Karen villagers raped and killed

The Irrawaddy News

A Karen relief team based on the Thai-Burma border reported on Wednesday, June 17, that two teenaged Karen women were raped and murdered by Burmese soldiers in Kwee Law Plo village, Lu Pleh Township, Pa-an district on June 12.

Joint troops of the Burmese Army and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) were passing through the village, which is 15 kilometers from Ler Per Her IDP (independent displaced persons) camp.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, June 17, the Free Burma Ranger (FBR)’s communications and information coordinator said that the two women were raped and murdered in the village after their husbands had fled into the jungle to avoid being forced to work as porters for the Burmese Army.

The source said that the first victim, who was 18 years old, was eight-months pregnant, and the second victim, a 17-year-old, had a six-months-old baby.

The coordinator said the relief team members who are working underground in the area reported that Burmese soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 205 , which is taking part in the ongoing fighting, were involved in the crime.

The Irrawaddy has not been able to obtain independent confirmation of this incident.

The attack by a joint force of the Burmese Army and the DKBA on the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), which started in the first week of June, has forced about 4,000 refugees to flee to Thailand. Most of the refugees are from Ler Per Her IDP camp, which came under attack.

The FBR is actively involved in helping Karen displaced people inside Karen areas who ran away from the civil war.

On 27 December, 2008, a seven-year-old Karen girl was also raped and murdered by a Burmese soldier from LIB 350 in Nyaunglebin District, Pegu Division.

Different ethnic-rights groups based on the Thai-Burma have written reports about Burmese soldiers raping female victims of the civil war in Burma in previous years.

Karen organizations have previously accused the Burmese military of using systematic rape as a weapon to terrorize ethnic people living along the borders.

In 2004, the Karen Women Organization (KWO) published a report titled “Shattering Silences,” which claimed that Burmese troops systematically raped Karen women. The report documented 125 cases of sexual violence committed between 1988 and 2004.

The report said that half of the rapes were committed by military officers, 40 percent were gang-rapes, and in 28 percent of the cases the women were killed after being raped.

Women’s organizations in other ethnic areas have reported similar incidents. In June 2002, the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) released a report titled “Licence to Rape,” which detailed testimonies from 173 ethnic Shan women who had been raped or encountered sexual violence at the hands of Burmese soldiers.

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