After mass rape in Rakhine last week, international community must intervene

your say May 19, 2017 01:00

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The use of rape by the Myanmar military as a weapon of war to demoralise and dehumanise Kachins, Karens and other ethnic minorities, before taking their land, is well documented.

But the rape of at least 32 Rohingya women, on May 9-11, by Myanmar soldiers and Border Guard Police in Kyan Taung, Buthidaung Township, Rakhine (Arakan) demonstrates new heights of brutality.  

Once again we in the Rohingya community are forced to witness helplessly the gruesome acts of sexual violence perpetuated by government forces against our women and girls, in the name of fighting terrorists. Our deepest sympathies are with these brave women and their families, whose only crime is they were born a Muslim in this country.

On May 8 the regime announced the launch of clearance operations in Kyan Taung, citing a dubious allegation that two Rohingya were killed while making landmines. The revenge for alleged bomb-making has translated into the rape of least 32 women, and other forms of sexual violence against many more in Kyan Taung. 

In spite of the series of international condemnations, and the initiative taken by the United Nations Human Rights Council to probe killings and rapes of Rohingya in Northern Maungdaw, government security forces have indulged in what can only be described as mass rape in Kyan Taung. Meanwhile the military has flatly rejected the UN probe in Northern Maungdaw, with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing saying the “Tatmadaw spirit” compelled them to prevent such an international investigation.

In light of such circumstances, we ask that the international community come up with more stringent measures to prevent the murder and rape of Rohingya women and children.

It must be underlined that the rapes are not the act of rogue soldiers, but part of a systematic policy adopted by top level commanders designed to break the fabric of society. 

The sexual violence against our mothers and sisters is among the most horrendous oppression that government forces have meted out in the name of clearance operations.

The international community must act now or else give us realistic guidance on how to prevent the genocide unfolding against our people. 

Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO)