The Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) has for courageously for years to gather sensitive information about human rights abuses against women in Shan State, Burma. When their report License to Rape came out in 2002, it exposed the Burma Army’s horrific use of rape as a weapon of war. It is still the haunting reality that because of Burma’s system of impunity, this atrocity has not stopped. Yesterday, SWAN along with Shan Human Rights Foundation released an update about human rights abuses during the latest surge of conflict in northern Shan State.
In March of this year the military regime broke a 22-year ceasefire with the Shan State Army-North. In an effort to wipe out any opposition, the regime is working to eradicate not only ethnic armed groups but local communities as well. They have reordered what they call a “Four Cuts” policy, which is designed to cut ethnic armed groups links with communities. Since this policy was first used in the 1960s, it has resulted in wide-scale abuses against civilians. The Four Cuts policy has led to the destruction of 3,600 villages in eastern Burma.
These human rights reports are not easy to read, but they do show the reality of what the people of Shan State are facing. SWAN has a whole report listing the recent rape cases:
On July 5, 2011, a Burma Army patrol from Light Infantry Battalion 513 entered the village of “Wan Loi” in Ke See township, and within hours had looted property throughout the village and raped four women and girls in separate incidents: Nang Mon, age 12, Nang Jarm, age 50, Nang Lord, age 30 and Nang Poeng, age 35 (not their real names).
12-year-old schoolgirl Nang Mon was raped in her home in front of her mother, who was struck when she tried to protect her daughter. Nearby villagers heard the girl’s screams but did not dare intervene. 50-yearold widow Nang Jarm was also raped in her house.
With conflicts growing in Shan, Kachin, and Karen States, and tensions building in Chin, Mon, and Arakan State – SWAN’s latest update is a fervent picture into why the international community must take urgent action to stop crimes against humanity in Burma. What matters to the military regime is protecting their business deals in the ethnic areas. These hydropower and gas and oil pipelines will bring billions to the general’s bank accounts. This is what matters to them, not finding peaceful reconciliation, and definitely not honoring the rule of law. Help us push for a UN Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma. These rape cases and other abuses should not go unrecognized.