SHAN Human Rights: Burma Army Soldier Rapes and Knifes 73-year-old woman in Eastern Shan State

The Shan Human Right Foundation released a statement detailing the brutal rape of a 73-year-old woman by a Burma Army soldier near Mong Phyak Town in eastern Shan State, on April 2, 2018

The Shan Human Right Foundation said the rape and knifing of the elderly woman “highlights the vulnerability of women amid the heavy Burma Army presence in this area.”

The Shan Human Right Foundation pointed out that the “town of Mong Phyak, half way between Tachilek and Kengtung, is surrounded by Burma Army bases, including Military Operations Command 18, Infantry Battalions 329 and 330, an armored battalion, supply bases and a Military Hospital battalion.”

The SHRF said despite “ceasefire agreements with ethnic armed groups in eastern Shan State since 2012 there has been no reduction in [Burma Army] troop numbers.”

The SHRF estimate that as many as “1,000 Burma Army troops are stationed around Mong Phyak town, that has a population of about 6,000 civilians.”

The SHRF explained the “large military-civilian ratio is a constant source of fear for local residents, particularly women, given ongoing military impunity for sexual violence.”

SHRF said other rapes in the area had gone unpunished and highlighted “the 2015 rape of a woman near Tachilek by a Burma Army soldier from Mong Phyak. The soldier was transferred back to his base in Mong Phyak, but there was no news of further punishment.”

The SHRF said Burma Army soldiers act with impunity. “In the recent rape case on April 2, several factors indicate the culprit was confident of impunity. The crime was committed in broad daylight, close to the town golf course, and close to the culprit’s own battalion. Police arrested him near the scene of the crime several hours afterwards, his hands and clothes still bloody, in possession of the victim’s jewelry – apparently having made no attempt to get rid of incriminating evidence.”

The Shan Human Right Foundation called for the end of military impunity for sexual violence as it is a threat to “women throughout the country, and must end.”

The SHRF welcomed “the new report by the UN Secretary General on conflict-related sexual violence, which blacklists the Burma Army for being “credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape”.

The SHRF urged the international community to urgently exert pressure “to end the Burma Army’s systematic use of rape, but also its ongoing militarization and offensives in ethnic areas. This must include economic sanctions, particularly on resource extraction in ethnic areas, which requires heavy Burma Army security, thereby fuelling conflict and human rights violations.”

The SHRF specifically urged “the Australian-run company, Access Asia Mining, which is planning a giant 150,000 acre gold-mining venture in Mong Phyak, to immediately pull out from this project, which is strongly opposed by local communities, or risk becoming complicit in the Burma Army’s systematic violations, including rape.”

The Shan Human Right Foundation said in its statement that “a shareholder update of Access Asia Mining dated March 2, 2018, ( the company is still awaiting final approval for its east Shan mining project from the Shan State government. The company also stated: “We are regularly asked about the impact of the much-publicized Rohingya refugee crisis on our business. This crisis, whilst generally perceived negatively throughout the international community, has no impact on our day to day operations as it is playing out in a region where we have no license applications and hence no operational activities.”

SHRF pointed out that it is “the same Burmese government armed forces, credibly documented as committing horrific crimes, including systematic rape, against the Rohingya, will be giving security to the Access Asia Mining operations in eastern Shan State.”

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