Rape case against Slorc troops continues to build
November 17 , 1995
We surrounded the thief’s house…we could’t find the thief so we took his wif’s head and confined her to the stockade. When her h usband came, we released her. After that, we killed her husband,” a captured Burmese soldier told markers of a video called Caught In The Crossfire.
The video, made by Images Asia, was shown at the fourth UN Conference on Women in Beijing this year.
Although the tape was only 18 minutes long, It provides a shocking testament to the suffering endured by Burmese women under the State Law Order Restoration Council.
In a scene showing women cooking in the jungle, a background voice narrates their plight. “The military uses rape to punish civilians, especially women, for perceived sympathies with the enemy and to demostrate the soldiers’ control and domination over civilians. Rape is not just an attack on the women, but on the social and social structure of entire communities.”
Much of the rest of the tape is told in the voices of the women themselves. UN human rights investigator Yozo Yokota confirmed the charges in his recent report to the General Assembly, stating: “The rape of women serving in forced labor camps, or as porters, is said to be common.”
The report further described the appallying violations of human rights, including the systematic rape of women by Burmese soldiers.
Burmese soldiers view rape as a right, the report said. It added that rape was encouraged by officers. “Women are sometimes singled out for portering or other types of forced labor in order to be rape,” the report said.
Images Asia’s human rights workers documenting cases of Slorc abuses against women and children said soldiers particularly target women whose husband are fighting with the rebel armies.
A member of Images Asia said they have heard the same name again and again while they interviewed women.That name is Sgt Ba Kyi and among his victims was a six-year-old girl. The girl’s parents sent her to gather vegetables at a farm and Ba Kyi is said to have reped her by the roadside. She was unable to walk after the attack and villagers later found her. She died later in hospital.
Burmese soldiers who have been captured or defected to rebel armies have admitted rape is common. Many women and children in Shan, Karen and Mon states told their stories to NGO workers and human rights workers who have been closely watching the situation.
One Woman said she saw soldiers seize a woman from her village. “I was so scared of them I ran away. I hid in the jungle for more than two weeks and subsisted only on rice soup.” When she returned to her village, she was confronted by a Slorc patrol, forcing her ti flee again.
A soldier who defected revealed what they did to villagers. “When we arrive in a village, we take all the goods except cloths and money. But we take all the food. If we don’t get what we want, we get something else. If there isn’t really anything, we just get porters and beat them up.”
The soldier said they were usually drunk and violent. Upon arriving st the next village, they did the same thing. “Not one village is left untouched,” he said.
The villagrs, who live in of the world’s poorest countries, do not have much, but soldiers robbed them anyway. “They took everything and raped us,” said a woman.
The Karen woman said:“ In Nomboh, the Slorc was searching for a KNU soldier.But when they couldn’t find him, they beat up his wife. One soldier went too far. He forced the young daughter to hold his penis while he kicked her unconscious.” The Karen National Union (KNU) is the remaining rebel group which has not reached a ceasefire agreement with Slorc.
Torture wasn’t confined to prisons, said a human rights worker in Chiang Mai who has seen many refugees fleeing to the Thai border.
“Many came because of the economic situation in Burma, which is so bad.” The human rights workers, who has been monitoring the situation since the 80s,added, however: “I saw many women from Shan and Karen state come here because they did not want to be raped or harassed by soldiers.”
In his recent trip to Rangoon, Professor Yokota was able to meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But he was not able to meet and talk freely to as many victims as he requested.
However, Yokota said in his well documented report: “Violations include undressing women in public … reping and gang-raping women individually or in group.”
The Slorc has denied the allegations and asked how can anyone from Burma commit such outrageous crimes as those mentioned in the summary of allegations.
A member of Images Asia said delegates at the Beijing conference were shocked to see one scene. In it three soldiers holding guns were standing at the bank of a river, questioning a woman who was in the water. Suddenly, a soldier pulled down his pants and underwear. While showing his pents and underwear. While showing his penis, he began thrusting his waist. It was taken in Moei River from the Thai side of the border.
Even though the junta has repeatedly announced that 15 of the 16 armed insurgent groups have returned to the “legal fold” thousands of internally displaced persons are still in the jungle. They face harassment, abuse and possibly death if seen by soldiers. Some have been taken as porters, while others are rountinely accused of being informers and supporters of rebels. They are interrogated or killed in front of fellow villagers.