Burma Making ‘Zero’ Progress on Ending Sexual Violence

A British human rights advocacy group claims the Burma Government has failed to live up to its pledge to end sexual violence, as authorities arrest women leaders protesting against rape.

Human rights advocacy group, Burma Campaign UK, has hit out at the Burma Government for making “zero” progress on ending sexual violence, one month on from the government’s decision to sign the Declaration Of Commitment To End Sexual Violence In Conflict.

“Rather than implementing the declaration to end sexual violence, the Burmese government has arrested women who protested against the attempted rape of an ethnic Chin woman by a Burmese Army soldier”, said Ms Zoya Phan, Campaigns Manager at Burma Campaign UK, referring to an incident last month where a Burma Army soldier allegedly tried to rape a woman near the town of Razua in Chin State.

Local women’s activists organized protests condemning sexual violence on June 23 and 24, with 600 local people taking to the streets. Authorities responded by arresting eight activists for holding a protest without official permission. Women’s group involved in the protests said that two requests were made to get permission to march, but both were rejected.

Ms Rachel Fleming, from the Chin Human Rights Organisation confirmed to Karen News that women in Chin State were at constant risk of sexual assault by the authorities supposedly tasked to protect them.

“I don’t see how Chin women can ever truly feel safe from the threat of sexual violence until they know that there has been a permanent, publicly announced, independently verified withdrawal of Burma Army troops from their towns and villages as part of the peace process – especially as Burma Army soldiers continue to enjoy impunity for their crimes.”

Burma Campaign UK, Ms Zoya Phan called on the international community to conduct an independent investigation into sexual violence in Burma.

“The international community should not let this commitment become yet another broken promise by President Thein Sein. The longer the Burmese government delays taking action, the stronger the argument becomes for the international community to conduct its own investigation into sexual violence by the Burmese Army,” Ms Phan said.
Ms Phan said that Britain should be at the forefront of an investigation into sexual violence in Burma. “As the country taking the lead on this issue internationally, Britain should take the lead in building international support for such an investigation.”

Burma was the 150th country to sign the Declaration Of Commitment To End Sexual Violence In Conflict last month.
A January 2011 report by the New York based human rights group Physicians for Human Rights documented that militarization had led to the displacement of 125,000 Chin in India and Malaysia, while “decades of neglect and widespread abuses have debilitated the Chin who remain in Chin State and rendered them highly food insecure and vulnerable to the current famine.”

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