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WLB Welcomes UN Recognition of Burmese Government Failure to Address Ongoing Sexual Violence

By Women's League of Burma  •  April 24, 2014

The Women’s League of Burma welcomes a new report by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon that calls for Burma’s government to investigate crimes of sexual violence, and highlights the need for constitutional reform to bring the military in Burma under civilian oversight.

The  Secretary-General’s  new  annual  report  on  Conflict-Related  Sexual  Violence  cites  continuing incidents of sexual violence in Burma during 2013, and calls for Burma’s government “to investigate and respond  to  current  and  historical  human  rights  violations  and  abuses  including  crimes  of  sexual violence.” WLB welcomes this clear recognition of State failure to deal with past and present military sexual violence in Burma. However, previous government-led investigations into military rape have not only failed to deliver justice, but have led to further humiliation and intimidation of rape survivors and their communities. We therefore maintain our call for an independent investigation into sexual violence in  conflict  areas  to  be  carried  out  by  independent  international  groups,  as  well  as  grassroots organizations working to support and protect women survivors.

WLB is also heartened by the Secretary-General’s inclusion of findings by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar that “the obligations of the State to fully investigate and hold perpetrators to account had not been met.” He recommended “amendment of constitutional provisions to provide better accountability and civilian oversight over military tribunals.” This conforms directly with WLB’s analysis that the first step to ending military impunity for sexual violence must be to change Burma’s 2008 Constitution.

As preparations are being made for comprehensive political dialogue under the peace process, WLB wishes to reiterate that the role of the Burma Army is a critical factor to protect women from further abuses by the military. Human rights violations, including sexual violence, have been endemic to military rule in Burma, and today, even under nominally civilian rule, these violations are continuing because of the 2008 Constitution, which continues to place the military above the government. Unless and until the military is placed under civilian control through constitutional change, sexual abuses against ethnic women will not stop, and the same pattern of impunity will continue.

Media Contact:

1.   Tin Tin Nyo + 66 (0) 81 032 2882
2.   Jessica N. Khun + 66 (0) 89 954 8074

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This post is in: Women

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