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Ongoing Sexual Violence in Burma Requires International Investigation

By Burma Campaign UK  •  April 16, 2014

Burma Campaign UK today publishes a new Briefing Paper – Rape and Sexual Violence by the Burmese Army – which details how the Burmese Army has used rape and sexual violence with impunity for decades, and reports of rape and sexual violence have continued since Thein Sein became President and reforms began.  Burma Campaign UK is calling for an international investigation to be established, as it is clear that President Thein Sein and the Burmese Army are unwilling to address this issue, and the international community cannot allow these abuses to continue.

Community based women’s organisations such as members of the Women’s League of Burma have been documenting rape and sexual violence by the Burmese Army for decades. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Burma has also documented numerous cases of rape and sexual violence by the Burmese Army in the past twenty years. Despite these abuses clearly violating international law, the British government and rest of the international community does not take the ongoing use of rape and sexual violence by the Burmese Army into account when deciding policy on Burma.

Recent cases include a 12 year old girl raped in front of her mother, the rape of a disabled woman, and many gang-rapes in which the victims were killed.

The British government has established the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and, after pressure, included Burma in this initiative, but has yet to take any steps to tackle impunity in Burma, despite saying this is a priority. Burma Campaign UK believes that the British government is reluctant to upset the government of Burma, as its new priority for the country is trade, not human rights.

Members of the Women’s League of Burma, which has been documenting rapes cases and assisting victims, have not received financial support for this work from the British government, and have not been invited to the summit on sexual violence which the British government is hosting in June.

On Friday 25th April the United Nations Security Council will hold a debate on Women Peace and Security and Sexual Violence in Conflict. The British government should highlight the use of sexual violence by the Burmese Army during the debate.

“The silence of the British government in addressing impunity for rape by the Burmese Army encourages President Thein Sein to believe his army can continue to get away with rape,” said Zoya Phan, Campaigns Manager at Burma Campaign UK. “William Hague can’t say addressing impunity for sexual violence is a priority, but then allow impunity in Burma because he has others priorities such as trade and investment. The only way to start to end the use of rape by the Burmese Army is if, for the first time, they think they might not get away with it. An international investigation is the only way this will happen.”

Please download the briefing paper here.

Media Contact:
Zoya Phan on +44 2073244710
Campaigns Manager
Burma Campaign UK

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This post is in: Press Release

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