Friday, November 17, 2017 09:00:04 PM,
HRW accuses Myanmarmilitary
Widespread raping of Rohingya women, girls
By 17th-Nov-2017 Staff Reporter
Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Myanmar security forces of committing widespread rape against women and girls as part of a campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ during the past three months against Rohingya Muslims in the country’s Rakhine state.
The New York-based rights group referred to the allegation incorporated in a report released on Thursday against the backdrop of growing international pressure on Myanmar to stop the Rohingya persecution. The report focused on sexual violence. The raping of women and girls appeared to be even more widespread and systematic than earlier suspected, and for that uniformed members of Myanmar’s military were responsible.
“Rape has been a notorious and devastating feature of the Burmese military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,’ said Skye Wheeler, Women’s Rights Cmergencies Researcher at HRW and author of the report in a statement. She said the Burmese military’s barbaric acts of violence have left countless women and girls brutally harmed and traumatized.Earlier, the United Nations denounced the violence as a classic example of ethnic cleansing. But the Myanmar government shamefully denied the allegations. The HRW report was based on interviews with 52 Rohingya women and girls, who had fled to neighboring Bangladesh, including 29 survivors of rape from 19 different villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Hala Sadak, a 15-year-old from village Hathi Para in Maungdaw Township, told HRW that soldiers had stripped her naked and then about 10 men raped her. “When my brother and sister came to help me, I was lying there on the ground, they thought I was dead,” she lamented.
The HRW report’s conclusions also drew from interviews with 17 representatives of humanitarian organizations providing health services to Rohingya women and girls in Bangladesh refugee camps, as well as Bangladeshi health officials.
Myanmar security forces had raped and sexually assaulted women and girls both during major attacks on villages and in the weeks prior to these major attacks sometimes after repeated harassment.” In every case, the report said, “The perpetrators were uniformed members of security forces, almost all military personnel.”
“All except one reported to Human Rights Watch that they were gang raped, by two or more perpetrators,” the report said. “In eight cases, women and girl were raped by five or more soldiers. They were raped at their homes and while fleeing burning villages.”
Nisha Varia, Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch’s women’s rights division, said that the report showed, “The patterns that we were able to uncover that provide a much fuller sense of how these attacks were carried out.”
Those patterns, she said, “include the verification of uniformed members of security forces as perpetrators, the high incidence of gang rapes, several instances of ‘mass rape,’ and the patterns of sexual harassment and violence in the weeks leading up to attacks on villages.”
On Sunday, Pramila Patten, a United Nations diplomat who is the special representative on sexual violence in conflict, also suggested that the Rohingya were genocide victims and that the perpetrators should be tried in the International Criminal Court.
Ms. Patten spoke after a three-day visit to the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh, where she met extensively with women and girls who had escaped the crackdown. “Rape is an act and a weapon of genocide,” she told media saying, “The widespread threat and use of sexual violence was a driver and ‘push factor’ for forced displacement on a massive scale, and a calculated tool of terror aimed at the extermination and removal of the Rohingya as a group.”
HRW called on the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar and targeted sanctions against military leaders responsible for human rights violations, including sexual violence.
The 15-member council last week urged the Myanmar government to ‘ensure of no further use of military force in Rakhine State.’ It asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to submit report in 30 days on the situation.
Myanmar’s army released a report on Monday denying all allegations of rape and killings by security forces, days after replacing the general in charge of the operation that drove more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh.