Rohingya rapes rampant: NGOs

Rohingya had no history of attacking the security services before October 9 and conclusive evidence has not yet been provided. Source: Flickr

Human rights groups are alleging that dozens of Muslim women have been raped by Myanmar’s security services in Rakhine State during counter-insurgency operations against alleged Islamist militants.
Around 30 women claimed to have been raped in a single village on October 19, said Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, a Rohingya rights groups. The area is tightly controlled by the military meaning media and international aid groups’ access is heavily restricted.

Lewa said she there were reports of five girls, aged 16 to 18, being raped in another village on October 25 and two women elsewhere on October 20.

The Rohingya are a persecuted minority largely based in Rakhine State, commonly called “Bengalis” in the media, implying they are illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. The Rohingya have been unable to obtain Myanmar citizenship, even though many of their families have lived in the country for centuries.
The Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) said it was “extremely concerned” that at least 10 alleged rape cases had been documented by civilians in unstable Maungdaw Township along the Bangladeshi border. One reported rape since military operations began earlier this month included a woman who was three-months pregnant and subsequently suffered a miscarriage.
“The Burmese government is deliberately violating international law and committing crimes that it promised the world they would refrain from,” said Kyaw Win of the BHRN in reference to the 2013 Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
The military claims to be hunting those behind three deadly attacks on border police posts on October 9, believed to have been carried out by Rohingya militants.
Much of northern Rakhine State is under military lock-down, with residents reporting extrajudicial killings, torture, large-scale evictions and the burning and looting of property.
While Myanmar now has a democratically elected government, the border, home affairs and defence ministries are entirely controlled by the military under the junta-drafted 2008 Constitution. The charter also gives the military impunity for crimes.
The UN has called for Myanmar to allow an independent probe into the incidents and the subsequent crackdown in northern Rakhine State on Monday, urging the government to address “growing reports of human rights violations”.
The military or “Tatmadaw” denies the allegations.
“The Tatmadaw have a long and well-documented history of sexually abusing women in areas where they operate. The question is what is [de facto prime minister] Aung San Suu Kyi and the government of Burma prepared to do about it because this is a real test of their political commitment to respect rights,” said Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch.