The case of a Burma Army soldier raping and murdering a 28-year-old woman in Shan State throws government promises of an end to sexual violence in doubt, a human rights organisation has claimed.
The Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) said the murder happened in Ho Pong Township in the State’s south on June 6. The soldier subsequently charged with the murder and rape was from the Burma Army’s Light Infantry Battalion 249.
Burma Army commanders arrested the soldier and had him subjected to a public beating, stating to villagers that he would be given a death sentence.
The Shan Human Rights Foundation expressed concern over the lack of transparency in the process, however, noting that local villagers were still unsure if the correct culprit had been arrested.
“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,” SHRF said.
The incident comes after the government signed the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in June 2014. SHRF maintained that the document meant little when reparations made to victims of sexual violence continued to be, “token, arbitrary, and fail to address the structural root causes of military sexual violence, making it inevitable that such crimes will continue to occur.”
The Shan Human Rights Foundation urged the government to withdraw soldiers from areas of conflict and engage in genuine political reforms to bring the military under civilian control.
A 2014 report by the Women’s League of Burma documents the rape of more than 100 women and girls, including 47 gang rapes, by the Burma Army since the current government came into power in 2011. The WLB report said that 28 of the women and girls were either killed or later died of their injuries.