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Villagers Remain Fearful after Burma Army Rape-Murder in Ho Pong, Despite Punishment of Alleged Culprit

By Shan Human Rights Foundation  •  July 20, 2015

On June 6, 2015, a 28-year-old Shan woman was found raped, murdered and robbed in Ho Pong Township, southern Shan State, with evidence pointing to Burma Army soldiers stationed at the nearby Light Infantry Battalion 249 outpost. After initial denial, local Burmese military officers arrested one of their soldiers for the crime, gave him a public beating, and announced he would be given the death sentence.  The Eastern Commander himself, Major General Aye Win, came from Taunggyi to apologize to the victim’s husband, and donated money and food to him.

However, lack of transparency around the military’s handling of the case is instilling doubt that justice has been served. Villagers are wondering why only one culprit has been arrested, when several soldiers committed the crime, and fear that one or more culprits remain free. They also have no way of knowing whether the death sentence will actually be carried out.

This case shows clearly that even though the Burmese government signed the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in June 2014, nothing has changed on the ground to protect women from military sexual violence in ethnic conflict areas. Reparations made by the Burmese military in this latest case in Ho Pong are token, arbitrary, and fail to address the structural root causes of military sexual violence, making it inevitable that such crimes will continue to occur.

A key factor causing sexual violence is the large number of Burma Army troops deployed throughout the ethnic states. Even in ceasefire areas, such as Ho Pong, the Burma Army continues to maintain and build up its military bases, instead of reducing its presence to show it is sincere about seeking a negotiated political solution to the conflict.

Another key factor is the military’s exemption from civilian control under the current constitution, making troops confident that they can commit crimes with impunity. It is significant that the culprits in the Ho Pong case dared commit rape and murder only about 60 meters from their military outpost, right in the middle of a small community.

To seriously address the problem of military sexual violence, SHRF reiterates our calls for the Burmese government to end its military offensives, begin troop withdrawal from the ethnic areas, and enter into dialogue to bring about political reform that will end the war and bring the military under civilian control.

For further information, please contact:

Website:             www.shanhumanrights.org

Email:                   shanhumanrights@gmail.com

Phone:                 + 66 (0) 93-297-7754

Sai Hor Hseng                     +66  (0) 62- 941-9600    (English, Shan)

Sai Kheun Mai                    +66 (0) 94-638-6759   (English, Burmese)

 

Download the press release in English here.

သတင္းထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္ ျမန္မာဘာသာကို ဤေနရာတြင္ ေဒါင္းလုပ္ရယူႏိုင္ပါသည္။

သတင္းထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္ ရွမ္းဘာသာကုိ ဤေနရာတြင္ ေဒါင္းလုပ္ရယူႏိုင္ပါသည္။

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This post is in: Press Release

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